As Passover (Pesah) approaches, thoughts turn to preparing the Seder plate, whose ingredients symbolise different stages in the liberation of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Central is Haroset, which symbolises the mortar used by the Israelites as slaves (some communities even mix brick dust with their Haroset). Here are some recipes From The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden (via e.sefarad.com).
The seder plate
On the Passover seder plate, haroset symbolizes the mortar used by slaves in Egypt. These are the classic Eastern European ingredients. Only the proportions vary.
2 medium-sized tart apples
1/2 cup (50 g) walnuts, chopped, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 – 3 tablespoons sweet red wine, 1 tablespoon sugar or honey or to taste. Peel, core, and finely chop or grate the apples. Mix with the rest of the ingredients
Haroset from Turkey
2 sweet apples weighing 1/2 lb (250 g), peeled and cut into small pieces
1/2 lb (250 g),dates, pitted
1 cup (150 g) raisins, Juice and grated zest of 1 orange, 1 cup (250 ml) sweet red Passover wine, 2 – 4 tablespoons sugar or to taste (optional)
2 oz (60 g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
Put all the ingredients except the sugar and the walnuts together in a saucepan and cook on very low heat until the mixture is soft and mushy and the liquid is reduced, stirring occasionally. Add sugar to taste. The amount will depend on the sweetness of the other ingredients. Blend to a paste in the food processor. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with walnuts.
Haroset from Egypt
1/2 lb (250 g) pitted dates, chopped
1/2 lb (250 g) large yellow raisins or sultanas, 1/2 cup (125 ml) sweet red Passover wine, 1/2 cup (60 g) walnuts coarsely chopped. Put the dates and sultanas with the wine in a pan. Add just a little water to cover. Cook on very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the dates fall apart into a mush. Cook until it thickens to a soft paste. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with walnuts.
Haroset from Morocco
1 lb (500 g) dates, pitted and chopped, 1-1/2 cups sweet red Passover wine, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 cup (125 g) walnuts, coarsely chopped. Put the dates into a pan with the wine, cinnamon, and cloves and simmer, stirring occasionally, until you have a soft paste. Put through the food processor if you want a smoother texture. Let it cool and stir in the walnuts.
Libyan version is flavored with ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves — 1/4 teaspoon of each.
NB Iraqi Haroset consists of date syrup (silan) mixed with crushed walnuts
Syrian Haroset: recipe at the base of this article (thank you Gina)