Every time I make Jewish food for the Holidays, I think of my Tia (aunt) Sarita who immigrated from Tangier, Morocco to Rio de Janeiro in the 60’s.
I also think about Brazilian ingredients, the tropical flavors associated with my country, and how Brazilian Jews slowly incorporated that into a new, forming cuisine. Unanimously we think about lime, coconut, mango, papaya, peanuts, cashews and so many other delicious foods. But it took a while until my aunt started using these ingredients in her own cooking.
I called my aunt, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, to chat about Haroset. An animated 82-year old with short cropped black and white hair, my aunt speaks with me in so many languages, shifting from Spanish, French, Haketia (a Sephardic dialect) and Portuguese, as she searches for words to describe the ingredients of Tangier, Rio, and how she creates her recipes.
Her cooking makes me feel at home, with deep roots in Jewish, Spanish, North African and Brazilian culture.
I wanted to come up with a recipe that preserves the apple essence of haroset, but alters the flavor profile with our own tropical twist. I called Tia Sarita to tell her about my idea for a Brazilian Haroset. My first change from the classic was to replace the usual almonds/walnuts with with cashews and peanuts. Not only do they add creaminess to the haroset, but I also love their gentle sweetness and freshness, Brazilian style, of course.
Then I added lime to accentuate the brightness of the apples and spices like coriander and ginger. The banana adds creaminess. The coconut adds nutty flavors, and the wine refreshes everything. The flavors shimmered in my mouth. This year my aunt is cooking this version of Haroset, and I hope to get good reports from the rest of the family—and from you!
Makes about 3 Cups
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 banana, peeled and diced
1/3 cup (40g) peanuts, lightly toasted and chopped finely
1/3 cup cashews (48g), lightly toasted and chopped finely
1/3 cup (18g) coconut chips
1 lime, zested, cut into segments, and diced
1/3 cup Kosher sweet red wine
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon gound coriender
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Procedure: Combine all the fruits and nuts. Add the lime, wine, honey, spices and mix well using a rubber spatula and folding carefully until fruits and nuts are completely covered. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate to let the flavors marry for a few hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature when ready to serve. Adjust the seasoning, adding more lime, honey and cinnamon if desired.