Pesach is rapidly approaching. Many people are concerned with house cleaning, buying new pots, and unpacking the Pesach dishes. I’m most concerned with haroset recipes. I love having a variety of flavours at my seder table and integrating traditions from other cultures. haroset is a tasty way of doing both.
The making, distributing, and eating of haroset is a feature in a number of historical haggadot- so I’m not the only person devoted to that detail of our seder. Even the Rambam (Moses Maimonides) had a recipe for the tasty treat.In his 11th century Mishneh Torah, Moses Maimonides gives one of the first written recipes for charoset in which it is said to look like clay mixed with straw: In the Mishneh Torah he instructed [crush] “dates, dried figs, or raisins and the like…add vinegar, and mix them with spices”. stringy spices would help the fruit and nut mixture have the texture of straw.
The following interesting bit of history is from Moment Magazine, The Sweet Story of Charoset, Spring 2009. “The clay interpretation saw its most extreme expression in 1862 when some 20 Jewish-American Union soldiers in an Ohio regiment put a brick on their Seder plate. One of them, Joseph Joel, recalled the experience in the March 30,1866, Jewish Messenger, a New York weekly. He writes that although stranded in the “wilds of West Virginia,” the men in his regiment were able to obtain matzos and Haggadahs and successfully foraged for a weed “whose bitterness…exceeded anything our forefathers enjoyed,” as well as lamb, chicken and eggs. But they could find no suitable ingredients for charoset. “So, we got a brick,” Joel wrote, “which rather hard to digest, reminded us, by looking at it, for what purposes it was intended.” “
The last time I posted, I included two recipes for haroset. This week I am including recipes from a variety of places. Maybe you’ll try something new.
French Provencal Style
(about 8 cups)
1 pound chestnuts
1 cup blanched almonds
2 medium tart apples, cored and chopped
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup dried figs
1 cup raisins
1 to 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1. Cut an X in the shell of chestnuts. Place in boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Drain. When able to handle, peel off shells.
2. Finely chop chestnuts and almonds. Add fruits and finely chop. Stir in enough wine vinegar to make a thick paste. Add ginger.
Source: Sefer Ha’Menuha, a work of the 13th century Provencal scholar, Rabbi Manoach, as cited in an article by Gil Marks in the Jewish Communications Network archives
Curacao Charoset Balls (Garosa)
14 pitted dates 10 pitted prunes
8 figs, stems removed
cup golden raisins cup cashew nuts lemon, unpeeled and cut in chunks
cup sweet red wine cup honey, or more as needed
2 tablespoons cinnamon to coat
Place dates, prunes, figs, raisins, nuts and lemon in food processor.
Add the wine and cup honey. Process to chop finely.
Mixture should be moist but firm enough to shape. Add a little extra honey if needed.
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Toss in cinnamon to coat. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Makes 25 to 30 balls. Note: If you prefer, the mixture can be spooned into a serving dish and dusted with cinnamon before serving.
Source: “Celebrating Passover with dishes of Curacao” Ethel Hofman and Myra Chanin PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (on-line edition), 3/25/99
3 apples, sweet or tart
2 cups sweet wine
1/3 cup (50 g) pine nuts
2/3 cup (50 g) ground almonds
1/2 lb (250 g) dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup (100 g) yellow raisins or sultanas
4 oz. (100 g) prunes, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar or * cup (125 ml) honey or to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Peel and core the apples and pears and cut them in small pieces. Put all the ingredients into a pan together and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the fruits are very soft, adding a little water if it becomes too dry.
Variations: Other possible additions: chopped lemon or candied orange peel, walnuts, pistachios, dried figs, orange or lemon juice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
Source: The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
(makes 10 side-dish servings)
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 bananas, peeled and chopped
Juice and grated peel of 1/2 lemon
Juice and grated peel of 1/2 orange
15 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup ground pistachios
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sweet Passover wine
5 tablespoons matzo meal
In large bowl, combine apples, bananas, lemon juice and peel, orange juice and peel, dates and nuts; mix well. Add cinnamon, wine and matzo meal; blend thoroughly.
Source: “A Passover Seder With Israeli Flavor,” from the St. Louis Post Dispatch by Judy Zeidler
Surinam—Seven Fruit (Sephardic Style)
(makes 5 cups)
8 oz. unsweetened coconut
8 oz. chopped walnuts or grated almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
8 oz. raisins
8 oz. dried apples
8 oz. dried prunes
8 oz. dried apricots
8 oz. dried pears
4 oz. cherry jam
sweet red wine
Combine everything except the jam and wine in a pot. Cover with water and simmer over low heat. Periodically, add small amounts of water to prevent sticking. Cook at least 90 minutes. When it is cohesive, stir in the jam and let stand until cool. Add enough sweet wine to be absorbed by the charoset and chill.
Source: The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan
Enjoy your Pesach preparations.
Be healthy, be positive. All the best to you and yours. By the way, if you love haroset and all its history you will love the book “Haroset: A Taste of Jewish History” by Susan Weingarten.