Haroset – in the Persian Tradition

Passover is fast approaching — a time for family gatherings and the retelling of our seminal story of peoplehood as Jews, the Exodus from Egypt. In telling this story, we use several symbolic foods as reminders, including the matzah – the unleavened bread, symbolizing the haste in which the Jews left Egypt, with no time for their bread to rise; a roasted egg — representing the festival offering; a roasted lamb shank bone — representing the Passover sacrifice; karpas — a green vegetable – we use celery (many Ashkenazim use parsley) representing hope and renewal; maror — we use romaine lettuce (many Ashkenazim use horseradish) — representing the bitterness of slavery and persecution; we use vinegar, although some use saltwater, into which we dip our karpas (celery) to recall the tears that the Israelis shed in Egypt. And haroset, a mixture of nuts and fruits made to resemble the mortar used to make bricks when the Jews were forced to build the cities of Ramses and Pithom.

Haroset – It is something we make only in conjunction with the Passover holiday. Different ethnic communities used different ingredients, depending, one suspects, on ingredients available in their particular areas. In the Sephardic and Mizrahi world, there is a tremendous variation in the recipes for haroset. Recently, the Cook Book group of Sepahrdic Temple Tifereth Israel, as part of its effort to produce a new cookbook in the next few years, had a tasting of haroset from a variety of backgrounds. Several variations from Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Rhodes and different parts of Iran were lovingly prepared and shared with the group. Each version was uniquely delicious.
In a previous post, I highlighted our family haroset prepared by my cousin Sarita Hasson Fields in the tradition of the Sephardim of the Island of Rhodes. This post will highlight a recipe from Iran which I just made today to add to our family table this year, made by Neda Mehdizadeh, based on her mother’s recipe from Iran.
The texture and taste are delicious for both — something new to add to your Seder table. As always, we would love to hear from you about your traditions and some of your special foods.
Cook with love – and enjoy this special time of year.
Pesah Alegre!
~Bendichas Manos

Neda Mehdizadeh is one of the dynamic young leaders of the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel Sisterhood, Or Chadash. She is a wonderful cook and gracious hostess. For our haroset tasting, Neda used the recipe of her mother, Nahid Jahanbin Khazai. This recipe is delicious, and the cardamom and cinnamon adds a distinct and delightful taste treat.

Neda’s Haroset

· 1 cup Concord seedless raisins
· 1 cup dried pitted prunes
· 1 cup pitted dates
· 1 cup Manischewitz kosher wine
· ½ cup raw almonds
· ½ cup walnuts
· ½ cup raw hazelnuts
· ½ cup raw cashews
· ½ cup fresh orange juice
· ½ cup pomegranate juice
· 2 chopped fresh apples
· 2 bananas
· 2 chopped fresh pears
· 2 cups fresh seedless concord grapes
· 2 tbsp ground cardamom
· 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 – Soak the raisins, prunes and dates in the wine for a few hours or overnight
2 – Ground the almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews in food processor, set aside
3 – Process the dried fruit and wine mixture in the processor
4 – Add and process the fresh fruits into the processor
5 – Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl (the dried & fresh fruit mixture, ground nuts, orange and pomegranate juices, and spices)
6. You can adjust the spices and wine to suit your taste
7. Haroset will keep well in the refrigerator for at least two weeks

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