Passover 5779: My Favorite Charoseth Recipe

Passover is my very favorite holiday, Jewish or secular. I love the warmth, the connection with tribal history, and so many of the phrases that remind me  everyone is welcome at this table, and that until all of us are free, none of us can be. Of course, all the stories about Passovers past, like the one in college when, after all 4 obligatory glasses of wine, V called his parents in Chicago to wish them Happy Passover, so I did (mine were in California), and the L called hers — good Southern Baptists… It was that same seder when, at the moment when we fling open the door to invite Elijah into our homes and our hearts, B stopped by, hoping to scrounge dinner. And so forth.

Then there are the foods, glorious foods! Most Ashkenazi Jews make charoseth (which represents the mortar the Hebrew slaves used to build the pyramids) from finely chopped apples, walnuts, sweet Passover wine, and a little matzoh meal (from the special kind of matzoh kosher for Passover, that has been carefully monitored to make sure there is no leavening). This concoction always set my teeth on edge. I dreaded it…until I discovered this recipe for Yemenite charoseth. It’s so sweet, I can eat only a little at a time, but bursting with flavor.

Yemenite Charoseth — about 12 servings

1 cup pitted, chopped dates (I use Medjool when I can find them)

1/2 cup chopped dried figs

1/3 cup sweet Passover wine (or fruit juice)

3 Tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tsp – 1 T ginger, either powdered dry or fresh, according to your taste

Dash – 1/2 tsp ground coriander

Dash cayenne — optional

2 Tablespoons matzoh meal (I use brown rice or sorghum flour as it needs to be GF)

Combine the fruit and wine. Add sesame, spices, and matzoh meal until thoroughly mixed. Roll into 1″ balls or serve in a mound.



The image is the first Nuremberg Haggadah, circa 1449 C.E.



Passover 5779: My Favorite Charoseth Recipe — 5 Comments

  1. My family is Ashkenazi and Mizrahi, so when we gather for Passover, the variety of foods is slightly mind-blowing (Mizrahi traditions allow the use of legumes, so we also have rice and chickpea options!)

    The charoset recipe I love is similar to yours, but with pomegranate juice rather than wine.

    • Pomegranate juice!! Oh my, that sounds amazing!

      I grew up in a completely nonobservant Askhenazi family, so I’ve been discovering/inventing traditions that speak to me.

  2. Bless you for keeping the traditions alive. Holidays in the US have become so steeped in commercialism that more and more I appreciate these simple returns to the REASON for the holiday.

    • At dinner the other night, we were talking about the differences between the common and Jewish calendars, and how having a separate way of marking the year, one that is in rhythm with the seasons, allows us to step outside that commercialism into sacred time.

  3. This sounds wonderful and I will have to try it.

    I was introduced to the foods for Passover a long time back when my roommates and I decided to try to celebrate as many holidays as possible, both religious and secular. We had gatherings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, the 4th of July, and so forth. One of my roommates, whose father was a rabbi, had always wanted to host her own Seder, so we did. One year we got so many people we had to hold it in the front yard! (This was in Austin, where it’s warm enough in April to sit in the front yard, assuming it isn’t raining.) Another year her father came and thoroughly enjoyed being present for a Seder without having to officiate.

    Several years later, after I had moved to Washington, DC, I got a call from my former roommates. They had been celebrating Passover and had clearly been generous with the wine. “We’re rewriting the Haggadah from a feminist perspective,” they told me. Wish I’d been there to help.