The United Arab Emirates – Challah

by Adelina Aida

Challah is a bread that is from the Eastern side of the European Origin. This dish is a very religious dish in aspect to the Jews. It is also a part of Jewish cuisine. This bread is very soft and serves many other main dishes of UAE origin, especially with the Humus. This bread is different from the other bread in the sense of appearance first the dough is kneaded and then braided to give a nice bumpy appearance. Then baked and served with the main dishes.

This dish has many alternative names according to the regional differences :

  • Kallah
  • Cholla bread
  • Hallah
  • Chalka
  • Bukhte
  • Kitke
  • Koylatch, etc

The term ”CHALLAH” is meant to be the kind of Bread and Cake.

This bread is also known as ”SHABBAT BREAD”. Because on the Jewish festival Shabbat this bread is made and then serve to the Jewish members after prayer. Traditionally three festival meals are eaten. All the meals served with this traditional cooked Shabbat bread.


There is much bread made up of similar ingredients but having some varieties and differences in shapes. Challah is known for its appearance, its braiding. Because the dough is then braided and baked in the oven. So following are the different varieties of challah :


Rosh chodesh is the first day of every month in Hebrew calendar. Some Jews have a tradition of customizing this shlissel challah which is usually of Key shape. Key challah, shlissel challah is a ritual of benevolent charm to admire every day.

There are different ways of making this challah as a ritual of Jews :

  • Some make the bread shape like a key so we can admire the charm of every month.
  • Some Jews usually place a key in the normal cooking challah.


Rosh challah is usually of round shape which represents the circle of the year. It is bake with some additional ingredients to be added to it like nuts, almonds, raisins, cashews, etc. It is said that this challah is of the shape of a turban and usually known as ”TURBAN CHALLAH”. This bread is more towards the dessert side so in many areas, honey is added on the top of this turban challah. Instead of salt in the ingredient, sugar and honey are added to give it a sweet and rich flavor. Sometimes sesame seeds are sprinkled on the top of the challah before baking to give it a nice nutty and earthy flavor.


Challah rolls are similar to the challah but it is handy and small in size. This bread is formed in a small size and in roll shape. These are also known with many different names like :

  • Bilkele
  • Bulkeli
  • Bukil
  • Belkulu, etc



The most traditional way to cook challah is from the plain wheat flour, eggs, salt, yeast, vegetable oil, sugar, and water to knead. This is also a healthy version of the bread that is using wheat flour instead of white flour. Then eggs are added to make them healthy and rich in nutrients. The shape of the challah is the same as the old to modern technique.


Water challah is known because in this recipe we only have water as a liquid. Like we don’t have eggs and oil to make it more like soft but water. So this is known as Water challah. It is more suitable for Vegan dishes and diets.


Modern challah has two differences in ingredients.


The traditional recipe has wheat flour as its main ingredients but in the modern way we have a huge variety of flour like plain white flour, self-rising flour, oats flour, spelt flour, etc.

From the above-given flours we can make challah easily either we want to move towards the healthy version like oats or want to make it white looking by adding plain white flour.


The traditional bread is light salty and can be eaten with other dishes like hummus and falafel etc. So in modern way we have sweet flavored challah by addition of sugar, honey into it. This is sometimes also served as dessert. Because sweetened bread with honey on the top is more like a cake.

This is made more fancy by adding chocolates, sprinkles, caster sugar etc.


Calories = 80

Fats = 2 grams

Sugar = 2 grams

Fiber = 1 gram

Carbohydrates = 15 grams

Sodium 1000 milligrams


  • All purpose plain flour = 3 cups
  • Salt = 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar = 1 teaspoon
  • Eggs = 3
  • Yeats = 3 tablespoons
  • Vegetable oil = 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame seeds = 2 tablespoons
  • Luke warm water for kneading


  • First of all, we have to activate the yeast by adding sugar and half a cup of warm water into 3 tablespoons of yeast and let them rest for a while.
  • Add all the dry ingredients like flour, salt, sugar into a bowl.
  • Add all liquid ingredients into the separate bowl like eggs, oil, and activate yeast mix.
  • All the ingredients should be at room temperature otherwise it will deactivate the yeast and ruin our challah bread.
  • Now add liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and assemble them together.
  • If you are having a tough time with the dough kneading, add lukewarm water to make a shaggy dough.
  • We have to knead this dough for 5 minutes until no lumps are seen and the dough must be smooth.
  • The dough must be soft but not runny.
  • It’s time to rest the dough and the yeast is going to rise the dough. It takes 20 minutes, the dough to rise properly.


  • Now the most important step to make this challah is its shape and braiding.
  • After the dough rising, we have to make 6 equal parts of the dough. And make a long rope of that balls.
  • The rope must be of equal size. We have to take all six rolls together and start twisting them along with the other rolls like shown in the picture.
  • In the end, squeeze the dough together to maintain proper shape.
  • Now it’s time to again raise the dough. Because this challah needs double rising to be made.


  • When braided dough is rise after 20 minutes, brush it with oil and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top of challah.
  • Pre-heat oven at 250 degree F and bake it for 30 minutes.
  • When challah is baked, let it cool down on the rack. Otherwise it gets soggy.
  • Now cut the desired shaped slices and serve.
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