How to Make the Best Lag Ba'omer Coal-baked Potatoes

Kartoshkes and roasting marshmallows are part of what makes Lag Ba'omer so special.

Vered Guttman

As an Israeli trying to raise a family in America, I find that one of the most difficult tasks is explaining to my kids how Lag Ba'Omer is celebrated in Israel. While other holidays are celebrated mainly at home, something we can easily recreate here, there's nothing quite like Lag Ba'Omer. It is an evening in which every kid in every class in any school is outside, sitting with friends and family around a bonfire (some of them are pretty huge), staying near the warmth it provides until dawn, eating kartoshkes (Yiddish for potatoes) that were baked on coal, roasting marshmallows and watching the cityscape slowly get covered with smoke.

That flavor of potatoes on coals is something I just can't forget, and it's something that's hard to recreate at home, unless you have a coal BBQ grill or a smoker.

But if you're lucky enough to have one, what you'll need to do is make sure you have enough hot coals to cover the potatoes you're about the bake. Have one 7 to 8 oz. potato per person. Wash the potatoes and double wrap them in aluminum foil, then put them in the grill directly on the coal, cover with more coal and let them bake for about one hour, until they're tender.

Alternatively, use a gas operated grill. Preheat the grill on high for 15 minutes, double wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and grill for about 45 minutes, turning them every 15 minutes, until they're tender. Remove the aluminum foil, brush potato skins with vegetable oil, and return to grill for 10 more minutes, turning them a couple of times, to crisp their skin.

Split open potatoes, sprinkle with salt or serve with this watercress aioli

Ingredients

1 large egg
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grape seed oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups watercress

Directions

1. Put egg, garlic cloves and salt in a bowl of a food processor or blender. Mix for a couple of minutes until smooth, then very slowly, drip by drip, with the food processor running, start adding olive oil and grape seed oil to create the aioli. Stop the food processor, add lemon juice and watercress and pulse until watercress is chopped.

2. Spoon over potatoes. Keep aioli in fridge for up to two days.