Matzo brei literally means fried matzo in Hebrew; it is a dish made by frying matzo with eggs. Alternative spellings of this Jewish cuisine include matzah brie, matzoh brie, and matzah brei. There are many variations in the preparation of matzo brei, but they tend to have several elements in common. Pieces of dry matzo moistened with milk or water are mixed with eggs and fried in a fat, such as oil, margarine, or butter. It may also be fried in rendered chicken fat, which is referred to as schmaltz — also spelled schmalz — which is derived from the Yiddish word for chicken fat.
Some people prefer sweet matzo brei prepared with sugar, jelly, apple sauce, or syrup. It can also be prepared like scrambled eggs, omelets, or frittatas. Meats or other ingredients can be combined with matzo brei, and it can be prepared in the same way as French toast with cinnamon, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Sour cream is traditionally served on the side. Many people enjoy family recipes for this food that has been handed down for generations.
Jews avoid leavened bread during Passover, thus making matzo brei an ideal Passover food since the matzo is unleavened. Unleavened means that it is made without the use of yeast or other leavening agents. Other than yeast, leavening agents include bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and baking soda. Matzo brei is of Ashkenazi Jewish origin and is commonly eaten for breakfast during Passover. It can be prepared for either lunch or dinner as well, depending on personal preference.
Recipes for matzo brei range from individual servings using just one matzo cracker to recipes that serve multiple people. Basically, one matzo cracker is used for each desired serving. It can be quite simple to prepare and many recipes have few ingredients. Generally, it is important to not soak the matzo crackers; they should just be moist. Otherwise, the resulting dish may turn out soggy.
Matzah balls are another unleavened dish made with ground matzo, or matzo meal. There are also variations on the spelling of matzah balls, including matza balls, matzoh balls, or matzo balls. They are shaped by hand and various ingredients can be used with the exception of dairy products. Matzah balls are traditionally boiled in chicken broth or chicken soup, and dairy products are not permitted to be combined with chicken according to Jewish dietary law.