One for the Seder plate: Harosi

Harosi isn’t just for the Seder plate. Make a good one and you’ll find any excuse to eat it.

Malus domestica, from Medizinal-Pflanzed by Franz Eugen Köhler (1897)(This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.)

Malus domestica, from Medizinal-Pflanzed by Franz Eugen Köhler (1897) This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.


So long as my grandfather was alive, making harosi each year was one of his favorite cooking projects. He made huge batches of it. Vats! At the Seder there were always a few large bowls of it on the table, and on our way home Gramps would gift each family member a jar or two – personalized with our names, and swaddled in acres of paper toweling and rubber bands – so we could keep spreading the love throughout the week of Passover. We spread it on matza. We spread it on cake. On cheese. Over ice cream.  On spoons – it’s great straight from the jar.  Ottoman Sephardim alreay eat spoon sweets, and to us harosi is just one more.

It’s not the prettiest stuff. Harosi represents the bricks and mortar the Jews made as slaves in Egypt. As a little kid attending an Ashkenazi religious school, I was convinced they thought the stuff was supposed to taste like mortar, too, not just look like it. Each year as part of the Passover lesson, they’d break out the paper plates and serve up a snack of grainy, grated apples, wilted and brown from oxidation, with huge chunks of raw broken walnuts and waaay too much cinnamon. It never held together in any sense (so much for Ashkenazi mortar-making skills), and I truly didn’t mind if my snack fell off the matza and onto the floor. Even at five, six, seven years of age, in those moments I took great, if quiet, pride in my cultural distinction.

Granted, my family’s harosi isn’t so pretty, either. There’s no way around it, you’re going to wind up with an opaque purplish mush. But it’s luscious and sweet. Try it after dessert with some cheese and a glass of chilled white, or straight from the spoon. You’ll be happy.

The recipe’s this way.




Filed under Holidays (fiestas judias), Recipes

4 responses to “One for the Seder plate: Harosi

  1. Rochelle Mann

    Hi Janet
    It’s Rochelle Amateau Mann from california i loved reading your wonderful and informative article love you

  2. Mark L.

    Hi Janet,
    An Ashkenazi friend brought me her apple-and-walnut harosi when I was observing Pesach for the first time. She also brought me the Persian harosi, which she ordered by mail from Zabar’s in New York. I’m ashamed to say I gobbled the Persian variety, while I ate relatively little of her Ashkenazi version. And hers was homemade! But it’s just as you say- the Ashkenazi version was not to my taste, chunky and bland. Can I say that my Marrano ancestry prefers harosi like yours? LOL

    • Janet

      Well now. Unless you mean to be derogatory, you shouldn’t call your ancestors Marranos, because it means swine. Converso works. Besides, a pig will eat anything you feed it!

      As for the harosi, don’t apologize for your taste buds. My Ashkenazi grandma never made us harosi (she knew when she was licked 😉 ), but boy oh boy, did we look forward each year to her stellar matza balls! Maybe your friend brought two kinds because she knew hers wasn’t exciting, but it wouldn’t have felt like Passover without it. It’s hard to break with tradition!

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