I thought I knew what Yerushalmi Kugel was, a thin noodle kugel that was kind of peppery. I am not a fan of the more classic sweet noodle kugel, but I have always liked this salty, peppery version. I even made my version a while back with soba noodles, Soba Noodle Kugel. This past Summer I was lucky to spend a few weeks in Israel and on my first Shabbat in Jerusalem I discovered the real Yerushalmi Kugel.
It was a remarkable site. The kugel was maybe 2 feet in diameter and 2 feet high. It was sliced up in layers and served piping hot. It was a dark brown color and so I had to try it. This kugel was sweet, but not too sweet in that it was more caramelized with a peppery accent. It was really good and for the rest of the trip I wondered how to bring this recipe back to New York.
I can't even find a picture online to do the kugel I had justice, but this one from David Liebowitz from his trip to Tel Aviv, is pretty close - see it here.
Later on that Summer I brought it up at a Shabbat lunch whereupon I received instructions from a soldier who was staying with our hosts on how he makes the best Yerushalmi kugel (who would have thought). Too bad it was Shabbat and I couldn't write it down, but it starts with a special deep pot, he recommended a tin pot with a lid, called a Jachnun pot, which is a yemenit food, but I am told any pot will work. For home cooks we are not going to make it 3 feet in diameter but you do need the height. It also has lots of margarine and sugar and the secret is in the caramelization.
As for the real Yerushalmi Kugel, we got one of those from a community member on the site, check out this recipe for Easy Yerushalmi Kugel.
Jamie also shared her version in the Joy of Kosher Cookbook, the main image above is her dressed up version with dried cranberries and made in a tube pan.
The closest thing I have found for a recipe like the ones in Israel, I found here on About.com, they give really good instruction on making the caramel and note that it is the trickiest part, who is willing to give it a try? If you make it please send in a picture!!
Just note that this is by far not the healthiest of kugels, one of the reasons I have not made it yet, but if you can make it right, it is worth the splurge now and again as long as you serve fruit for dessert.