Mishnah Berurah Tiferet

Past Articles:
HAROSET – THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

By: Sarina Roffé



Traditionally, harosetis a sweet, dark-colored paste made of fruits and nuts. Eaten at the Passover Seder, it serves as a symbolic food on the Seder plate. The color and texture of haroset are meant to recall the mortar/mud that the Israelites built with when they were enslaved in Egypt. The word "haroset" comes from the Hebrew word heres, meaning "clay."

Eastern European, or Ashkenazi haroset is made from chopped walnuts and uncooked apples. It’s spiced with cinnamon and sweet red wine, with the possibility of honey or sugar as a binder. Depending on the country, Sephardic haroset is a paste made of raisins, figs, and dates. Syrian Jews have always used dates with walnuts and sweet wine.

Egyptian Jews make haroset from dates, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, and sweet wine. Greek and Turkish Jews use apples, dates, chopped almonds, and wine. Italian Jews add chestnuts. Some Spanish and Portuguese communities, such as the Jews of Suriname, even add coconut.

Not all Jews use the term haroset. Some Middle Eastern Jews use the term "halegh" instead. The origin of halegh is not clear. Rav Saadia Gaon used the word in his writings and attributed it to a kind of walnut that was a mandatory ingredient in the preparation of the halegh. Parts of the Jewish Diaspora in Iran have a tradition of including forty different ingredients in the halegh. The number forty signifies the forty years of wandering in the desert.

All my life I have made haroset Syrian style, using dates, wine, walnuts, and cinnamon, just as my mother and grandmother taught me. Since starting Sarina’s Sephardic Cuisine, I have been testing recipes from many Sephardic cultures. Sephardic communities around the world localize their recipes to include locally available ingredients, often adapting to the surrounding culture.

I’ve tested many haroset recipes – Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Turkish, Yemenite, Moroccan – and they are so interesting and delicious. I’ve also tried different spices. Adding coriander and ginger to your haroset recipe gives bite to the palate. Greek haroset has an orange tang to it. Really, you can use any fruit or combination! When making haroset, it’s great to fall back onyour family tradition, but it’s also nice to try something new.

I invite you to check out a few of our Passover recipes on www.sarinassephardiccuisine.com

Haroset Egyptian

Ingredients:

·         8 oz pitted dates, chopped

·         8 oz golden raisins

·         ½ C sweet Passover wine

·         ½ C Almonds, chopped

Directions:

1.      Over low heat, simmer dates, raisins, wine, and enough water to cover. Stir occasionally until dates are mushy and thicken into a paste.

2.      Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with almonds.

Haroset Syrian

Ingredients:

·         12  large pitted dates, chopped

·         ¼ C sweet Passover wine

·         ½ tsp cinnamon

·         1 C chopped walnuts

Directions:

1.      Place the dates in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and let simmer until dates are soft – about 30 minutes.

2.      Drain the dates, transfer to a food processor, and add the wine and cinnamon. Process until very smooth or push through a strainer to remove any date skin.

3.      To serve: Top with chopped walnuts and serve at room temperature.

Haroset Iraqi

Ingredients

·         14 Iraqi dates, chopped and seeded

·         Water

·         Salt

·         ½ C chopped walnuts or pistachios

Directions:

1.      Boil dates in lightly salted water, stirring frequently until they are the consistency of a thick paste. A traditional variant is to strain the pulp out of the paste, producing a honey-like date syrup. Note: This procedure uses considerably more dates and can take several days to produce sufficient syrup.

2.      To serve: Mix in finely chopped nuts.

Haroset Greek

Ingredients:

·         1 orange, unpeeled cut into 8 wedges, seeds removed

·         ½ C raisins

·         ½ C pitted dates

·         ½ C cherry preserves

·         ½ C sweet Passover wine

·         1 tsp ground ginger

·         1 pinch cayenne pepper

·         2 tbsp pine nuts

Directions:

1.      In food processor, chop the orange coarsely. Add raisins and dates and process until finely chopped.

2.      Transfer to medium size saucepan and stir in preserves, wine, ginger, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over lowest heat for eight to ten minutes until thick, stirring often to prevent any sticking. Cool and refrigerate.

3.      To serve: Top with pine nuts.

Haroset Moroccan

Ingredients:

·         8 oz pitted dates

·         ½ C pecans

·         ½ C almonds

·         3tbsp sweet Passover wine

·         1 tsp cinnamon

·         ½ tsp ground ginger

·         1 sweet apple

Directions:

1.      Halve the dates. Finely chop pecans and almonds in a food processor and remove to a bowl.

2.      In food processor, add dates, three tbsp wine and spices and grind until fairly smooth. Mix in nuts. Peel core and grate apple. Stir into the date mixture. If the mixture is dry, add more wine by the teaspoon.

Haroset Turkish

Ingredients:

·         ½ C pitted dates

·         2 C peeled and sliced apples

·         ½ C dried apricots

·         ½ C chopped walnuts

·         1/3 C walnuts, finely chopped

Directions:

1.      Place fruits in saucepan and add enough water to cover the fruit. Cover and simmer until apricots and dates are tender enough to mash with a fork and mix until blended.

2.      Let cool and mix in nuts.

Haroset Yemenite

Ingredients:

·         1 C pitted chopped dates

·         ½ C chopped dried figs

·         1/3 C sweet Passover wine

·         3 tbsp sesame seeds

·         1 tsp ground ginger

·         1 dash ground coriander

·         ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

·         2 tbsp matzo meal

Directions:

1.      Blend dates, figs, and wine in bowl of food processor. Transfer to bowl, then add the sesame seeds, ginger, coriander, cayenne, matzo meal, and mix thoroughly. The nuts and spices can be varied to suit individual tastes.

Haroset Persian/Iranian

Ingredients:

·         1 unpeeled pear, cored and finely chopped

·         1 unpeeled apple, cored and finely chopped

·         1 C finely chopped walnuts

·         1 C finely chopped almonds

·         1 C finely chopped hazelnuts

·         1 C finely chopped pistachio nuts

·         1 C chopped pitted dates

·         1 C chopped raisins

·         2 tsps ground cinnamon

·         2 tsps grated ginger root

·         1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

·         Sweet wine

Directions:

1.      Combine pear, apple, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, dates, and raisins in a large bowl, and blend well, being careful not to chop the mixture into a paste.

2.      Add cinnamon, ginger root,cider vinegar and enough wine to bind. Place on a platter and shape into a pyramid. Cover and refrigerate.