Saturday, February 27, 2021

I Get By With a Little Charoset From My Friends

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This year for Passover, I’m thrilled to share some traditional recipes from an Israeli friend, Hedva Amrani, which we’ll include at our seder.

Amrani is a famous Israeli pop singer. She performs worldwide and recently has released a new album.

Her grandparents came to Israel from Yemen. Amrani was born in the Yemenite quarter of Tel Aviv, where she lived until she was 10 years old. Amrani considers herself a Yemenite Israeli. She began to sing at age 12 and won talent competitions. By the late 1960s, she was internationally known.

Amrani’s mother taught her to cook the traditional dishes; her father was also a great cook. Every year, her husband, Dudley, and Amrani host a seder at their home for family and friends. She loves preparing her Yemenite specialties during Passover.

Amrani’s Passover memories include her father making shmura matzo, the handmade matzo that was made at her grandparents’ bakery, and she loved the family seder ritual when the young and the old sat on pillows on the floor, like in ancient times.

I’m adding a Yemenite Charoset recipe from Amrani’s mom, Shoshana, to our charoset tasting that I’m looking forward to sharing — a tasty blend of walnuts and almonds combined with dates, raisins, apples and special spices.

I’m also including a Passover Yemenite recipe for fish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce that will replace our family’s traditional gefilte fish course.


1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
10 dates, seedless
1/2 cup raisins
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup grape juice or sweet red wine

In a food processor, lightly grind walnuts and almonds. Set aside.

Soak dates in water for 1 hour and cut into halves.

Grind dates, raisins and diced apple in a food processor.

Add walnuts, almonds and remaining ingredients.

Add the grape juice or sweet wine and mix well.


Yemenite tomato sauce (recipe follows)
3 pounds white fish, ground
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, mashed
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste

Prepare the tomato sauce and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, grind fish.

Add onion, garlic, cilantro, egg, matzo meal, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Warm tomato sauce on medium heat. Spread some of the sauce on bottom of a roaster.

Using your hands, shape fish mixture into into 2-inch balls. Place balls on sauce so they aren’t touching.

Top with remaining sauce (if not enough sauce, add a little water).

Cover and cook in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Serve warm or cold.


8 soft tomatoes (2 to 3 pounds)
3 ounces tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 teaspoons garlic, mashed
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hawayege (Yemenite herb blend)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 cup water

In a food processor, zip tomatoes and tomato paste. Set aside.

Heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic lightly, so not to burn. Add cumin and hawayege, tomatoes, cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.

Bring mixture to boil and reduce to low, heat for 1 hour. Add water if needed.

Serves 8-10.

Judy Zeidler is a cooking teacher and cookbook author.

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