Tag Archives: syrup

You Say Haroset, I Say Harose. (Charoset, Jarose…)

Syrup_BlogWe all know haroset. We all love haroset. And, come on, we all think that OUR family’s haroset is the best, no? The Ashkenazim (at least here in the USA) tend to make theirs with chopped apple as its base, adding walnuts, cinnamon, a little sugar, and sweet wine, while the Sephardim generally use dates as their base, with cinnamon, wine or even vinegar, and perhaps apples or dried apricots depending upon the region. But what is most interesting to me right now is how many names exist in the Sephardic and Mizrahic (Middle Eastern) world for this sweet Seder treat. In Israel the spelling and pronunciation is charoset with a more guttural “ch” sound in place of the softer Ashkenazic “h” sound. In speaking with several individuals with Turkish roots the Ladino spelling “harósi” or “haróse” has been most common (although in a recipe by Elsie Menasce from South Africa, she spells it “jaróse” with a “j”, which I have been told is more Castillian). Yemenites and Persians refer to it with a different name all together: “dukah” or “dukeh” (which supposedly means “pounded” or “ground” in the Yemeni Arabic dialect). But when the consistency or style of the haroset changes from that of a thick purée or paste to that of a syrup (made of dates to the texture of honey or molasses) the names become the following: silan for those originally from Baghdad, or mysteriously changes to halech,” “hallaq,” or halékfor those Baghdadis who later settled in parts of Asia, such as Singapore, China, or India. While looking through a Bukharian cookbook I noted that the charoset recipe was called “haleko” which makes me think that the word comes from an Asian/Central Asian root of some sort. In Curacao, the Sephardim (who have Dutch roots via Portugal) call their haroset “garosa.” My latest discovery was the word, “aropi” from a community cookbook by the Sephardi Ladies of Zimbabwe. In old Greek the word is “sirópi” which sounds pretty close but with the initial letter “s”. I can see the relationship between this spelling and the word, but have yet to really pinpoint the language.

QUESTIONS:
Has anyone else heard of this spelling “aropi” to refer to any kind of syrup?
How do YOU say charoset in your family or community?

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Silan Date Honey: A charoset for all year-round?

Charoset_Silan3_blogYesterday I was reviewing my Passover food interviews from Iraqi Jews, and found it interesting that in all of them the individuals described their charoset as not so much of a date purée, but of one resembling molasses. This thick syrup (called silan) was sometimes mixed with chopped walnuts, almonds, or pistachios. At their Seder, they would either drizzle it on the matzah or dip the matzah (as well as bitter herbs) directly into it. In my interviews with Iraqi Jews that had at some point moved on to other countries in Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia (such as India, Bornea, Singapore, or Iran), the description was the same, but instead of silan they called it halék/halech. I have been trying to find out the origin of both of these words and see if there is any specific meaning (such as “honey,” “syrup,” “molasses,” or “jam”), but I have not been so far successful. It sounds very much like an Arabic word but perhaps from an ancient dialect?

What is also interesting is how timely my research is on this particular subject. While speaking with a Yemenite Israeli yesterday (the same day I had been researching silan), the first thing that she asked me was, “Jennifer, have you ever heard of something called ‘silan’? I just returned from Israel and it is such a craze over there now. They are doing everything with it!” She went on to tell me how one friend mixed it in with tahini to make some kind of nutty sweet, and how chefs in restaurants were putting it in and on everything. I too had found that the trend was hitting over here in the U.S. In my searches online for “silan”, all kinds of recipes were popping up, including a cauliflower dish that called for it drizzled on top. In fact during this recent Passover I was able to find a jar of it in my local kosher market, which I bought right away and still have.

So my questions still remain:
What is SILAN and how is it different from and/or related to HALEK?
Does anyone out there (who is NOT from the Iraqi community) also call their charoset
by one of these names, and if so, where are you from?

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