Latin Jewish Charoset for Passover

Latin Jewish Charoset for Passover

Every time I make Latin Jewish Charoset for Passover —or Latin Jewish food in general for that matter, I think of my Tia Sarita, my father’s sister, who immigrated from Tangier, Morroco to Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s.


Tia Sarita and Chef Leticia
Tia Sarita and me in the kitchen, sharing the love of cooking. Rio de Janeiro, circa 2018.

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. She began collecting recipes when she had just arrived in Rio, and my grandmother would still do the cooking.

My Grandmother Estrella Benzaquen
My grandmother Estrella Benzaquen, when she was a young woman in Morrocco. Circa 1940

Over the last few years, I decided to embark on a lovely project: to preserve my family recipes. I called my aunt, to chat about Charoset. We talked about a Latin Jewish Charoset for Passover of course.

Spices in the Refrigerator
In Rio, the weather is so hot that my Aunt Sarita keeps all of her spices in the refrigerator.

An animated great-grandmother with short-cropped black and white hair, my aunt speaks with me shifting from Spanish to French to Haketia (a Sephardic dialect) to Portuguese, as she searches for words to describe the ingredients of Morrocco, Brazil, and how she creates her recipes.

Latin Jewish Family in Brazil
From right to left: my father Salomon, my daughter Bianca, my aunt Sarita, my son Thomas, and me. My father and his sister speak Spanish with each other.

Her cooking makes me feel at home, with deep roots in Jewish, Spanish, North African, and Brazilian culture. Recently, we talked all about Haroset and visualized a recipe that preserves the apple essence of haroset, but alters the flavor profile with our own tropical twist. Cashews and peanuts replaced the traditional almonds. Lime accentuates the brightness of the apples and spices like coriander and ginger. The banana adds creaminess. The coconut adds a nutty flavor. The flavors shimmer in your mouth.


Latin Jewish Charoset

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 ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg


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.


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