Tag Archives: syrian

Syrian Candied Gourd for Rosh Hashanah

Everybody knows about dipping apples in honey to celebrate Rosh Hashanah for a “sweet” year. But in the Syrian tradition, we have an entire seder before the meal. There are actually many symbolic foods we make blessings on for the Jewish New Year.

In one of these prayers, we ask God to tear up any enemies’ decrees against the Jewish people. The Hebrew word for gourd, kara, resembles the word karaa, which means to rip. Before eating the gourd, we say, “May it be your will, Adonai, our God, God of our forefathers, that You tear up the evil edict of our judgment and may our merits be declared before you.” The gourd from our childhood was neon green and smelled like old ladies’ perfume, not to mention supremely freezer burned. It’s not uncommon to make (or buy) a batch, and store it in the freezer year after year until it runs out.

Candied Gourd

In my version of candied gourd I prefer to omit the green food coloring that gives the traditional version its signature color, as well as the rosewater. Rosewater is a key ingredient in many Middle Eastern sweets, so if you choose to use it just remember that a little goes a long way—just a drop is more than enough.

We actually prefer to use spaghetti squash as a more accessible alternative to gourd, but pumpkin, acorn squash or any winter gourd can be used. It is traditionally prepared as a sweet dish to go with the theme of a sweet new year—the same reason we eat dates and apples dipped in honey.

Candied Gourd

The other symbolic foods that our family eats during the Rosh Hashanah seder are dates, leeks, pomegranate, black-eyed peas, swiss chard, fish head, lamb head, or tongue, and a “new” fruit to say the shehechiyanu blessing on, which only has to be new for the year, and is usually starfruit.

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Syrian Candied Gourd

Posted on September 4, 2014

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Passover Recipes: Spiced Quinoa with Lamb and Pickled Lemons

10-12 portions

The lamb shank (Zeroa) is a crucial component of the seder plate, a reminder of the Korban Pesah (Paschal Lamb) sacrificed when the Israelites left Egypt, and for generations to follow, as long as the Temple was standing. Families gathered the first night of Passover to feast on the sacrifice of roasted lamb. Most Jews place a shank bone on the seder plate, to fulfill the memory of the sacrifice, which itself is forbidden in the absence of a Temple. Many take care to omit all roasted fare from their meal, in the spirit of the prohibition against the Paschal lamb in the Diaspora.

Syrian Jews have a fascinating custom that seems to defy Passover conventions. We start off our Seder meal (Shulhan Arukh) with lamb! In keeping with the interdiction, the lamb must be boiled, and not roasted, as the primary method of cooking, and may not be noted as being eaten in remembrance of the Paschal Lamb (Yalkut Yosef Volume 5: pp. 406- 7).

The traditional recipe, passed down to me by my grandmother, calls for boiling the lamb, then continuing to brown it in the oven. The tender meat is then stripped from the bone, which is reserved for the seder Plate. The delicate lamb morsels, gently warmed and served with lemon and allspice, disappear before the soup makes it to the table! In this recipe, pickled lemons add a kick that cuts through the richness of the lamb, and the addition of quinoa elevates it from an appetizer to a main dish (you can substitute rice for the quinoa if your custom is to eat rice on Passover). If your guests are not quite ready for lamb at the Seder table, this makes a delectable one dish meal for another Passover night!

Spiced Quinoa with Lamb and Pickled Lemons

Posted on March 26, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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