From kugels to buñuelos: Cultural foods for the fall season


Ajmal Khan is a senior at Berkeley High School. His family is from Pakistan; they identify as Pashtun, a Muslim ethnic group. In this season, Khan said that Pashtun people traditionally eat very hot and spicy food. One specific dish that Khan and his family make during Autumn is pakora and chai. “Pakora and chai is a perfect dish for fall,” Khan said. “My mom makes it and we all go outside and sit around a table in our backyard.” Pakora is a type of Pakistani vegetable fritter. “My mom usually puts in diced onions, potatoes and tomatoes,” Khan said. Chai, a traditional hot Pakistani tea, is served alongside the pakora. Pakora and chai are mostly made and sold in the streets of Pakistan, due to how affordable the ingredients are. This dish is significant to Khan because “It’s everyone’s favorite. Whenever my mom makes it, we all come out of our rooms and we all go outside and eat.” For Khan, it brings his family together.

BHS senior Sofia Lopez is a second generation Mexican American. 

“During the holidays, specifically, there’s something (that we eat) called buñuelos,” Lopez said. 

Buñuelos are made by frying a flour tortilla and topping with cinnamon and sugar. Lopez’s grandmother taught her to make them and made them for her since she was little. “They’re really significant to me because they remind me of something that my grandma has passed down to me,” Lopez said.

Adayah Jubb-Miller is a BHS freshman who identifies as Jewish. “On Yom Kippur, you break the fast with a meal of really anything you want,” Jubb-Miller said. “But something that people usually make is kugel.” Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday where participants fast from sunset to the the following day’s sunset, lasting around 25 hours. Jubb-Miller said that she usually stays home from school and doesn’t really go out during this holiday. The purpose, to her, is, about asking for forgiveness. “You think about the mistakes you’ve made, or the people you’ve hurt and then you ask them for forgiveness and have a clean slate,” she said. 

Kugel is similar to a baked casserole dish that is both sweet and savory, with key ingredients being egg noodles, cinnamon, sugar and cheese. Jubb-Miller shared that this food is a comfort food for some, but not for all. “It’s definitely an acquired taste,” she said.

Kugel Recipe


12 oz. extra-wide egg noodles
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 large eggs
½ cup sugar
1 lb. full-fat cottage cheese
1 lb. full-fat sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cook 12 oz. extra-wide egg noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 4–5 minutes. Drain, leaving a little bit of water clinging to the noodles.

Generously butter a 13×9” baking dish (we prefer glass for even heating, but metal is okay, too).

Make the creamy sauce: Cut 1 stick butter into a few big pieces and transfer to a small heatproof bowl. Microwave until butter is melted, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly. Whisk 8 large eggs and ½ cup sugar in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved and eggs are frothy, 1–2 minutes. Add 1 lb. full-fat cottage cheese, 1 lb. full-fat sour cream, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, and remaining 2 tsp. salt to egg mixture. Whisk vigorously to combine. Pour in melted butter and whisk again to combine.

Add hot noodles to the bowl and toss to coat with a spoon or spatula.

Transfer noodle mixture to prepared baking dish, tipping dish to evenly distribute. For a really crispy top, pull a few noodles to the surface so that they’re poking out over the sauce.

Bake kugel, rotating pan halfway through, until custard has souffléed, top is browned, and noodles on the surface are crispy, 50–55 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.