Recipes for a sweet New Year
September 14th, 2012
03:15 PM ET
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Shana tovah u'metukah!

The exhortation to have a "good and sweet year" isn't just a figure of speech; it also guides the menu for celebrations of Rosh Hashanah for Jewish people around the world. This observance of the New Year brings the faithful together, for two nights in some communities and one night in others, in services to reflect upon and celebrate the year that has passed and the one that is to come.

The shofar - the horn of a ram - is blown, bread is tossed into the water to indicate the casting off of sins, prayers and poems are recited.

Then comes the feasting.

In keeping with the theme of a "sweet" year, dishes tend toward the honey-dipped and fruit-forward, with plum cake, apples drizzled in honey, and dessert wines often on the menu. Traditional challah bread is often served in a round rather then a long loaf to symbolize the cycle of life. Often, a "new fruit" - one that's in season, but that the diners have not yet had a chance to sample - is served as well. Pomegranates are a popular choice, as their seeds are numerous, as, hopefully, will be the eater's good deeds in the new year.

This feast of plenty will give way to a period of contemplation and atonement in the days leading up to the privation and fasting of Yom Kippur, but tonight - eat sweetly.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization that operates in more than 70 countries around the globe, has compiled these regional Rosh Hashanah recipes from India, Siberia and Israel, as well as many more that can be found on their site and via their new app.


Cornflour-Coconut Halava (a specialty of the Bene Israel community)

Recipe courtesy of Rosy Solomon Moses of Mumbai, India.


2 1/4 cups cornstarch (in India, use corn flour)
A drop or two of pink, orange or red food coloring
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons chopped almonds and pistachios
1 medium-sized coconut (or 1 can of thick coconut milk)
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Scrape coconut, grind in the mixer and extract coconut milk with warm water to measure 2 quarts. Sieve cornstarch and add to the coconut milk with sugar, a good pinch of salt and color.

Mix well and pour into a stove-top pan and cook on flame, stirring all the time to prevent sticking. Stir for about 30 minutes.

Pour a little in a plate, and if it comes out without sticking to the plate, add the margarine, half the nuts, cardamom and nutmeg powder. Mix well and pour onto 2 ungreased trays, 8” x 10”. Tilt to spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining nuts. Cool and cut into squares or diamonds. Keep overnight in the fridge if not consumed the same day.

Optional: You may want to add 1 packet of agar agar (a gelatin agent) in 1/2 cup of warm water, cook for 5 minutes more, before adding the margarine and nuts, for firmness and better taste of halava.


Baked Apples with Cedar Nuts in Honey

Recipe courtesy Inna Vanetik, aged 73,who is a volunteer in JDC’s Krasnoyarsk Hesed (community center).


5 – 6 apples
2 cups cedar nuts (or pine nuts)
4 teaspoons sugar
5 teaspoons sweet liqueur
2 cups of butter
1 1/4 cups of honey
1/2 glass of red wine


Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Extract the apple core of each apple and place apples on a well-buttered cookie-sheet.

Mix cedar nuts (or pine nuts) with sugar and liqueur and put this mixture inside each apple. Sprinkle cinnamon and put a piece of butter on top of each apple. Mix honey with wine and pour this sauce on the stuffed apples.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with ice cream.


Lentil Spread and Dabo (Ethiopian Bread)

Recipes courtesy of Ayala Yasu, an Ethiopian-Israeli, who in 1984 flew to Israel with Operation Moses.

Lentil Spread


2 cups red lentils
3 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, diced into cubes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon chicken soup
Salt to taste
Turmeric to taste (optional)


Cook the lentils until soft. Sauté onions and garlic in oil in a separate pan until soft. Add hot and sweet paprika and water; simmer on low flame for five minutes

Add cooked lentils and chicken soup. Add salt and turmeric to taste.



2 1/4 pounds of flour
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups lukewarm water


Combine all ingredients and allow dough to rise about 1 1/2 hours. Place dough in a large pan and bake until golden.

Note that Dabo can also be "baked" in a large pot over a very low flame. Once the dough appears dry, remove it from the pan, and cook on the other side until golden.

About JDC - The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in Israel and more than 70 countries to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters. To learn more, visit

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Filed under: Bite • Cuisines • Holiday • Jewish • Kosher • Make • Recipes • Rosh Hashanah

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. coches

    �Hay alg�n problema con la carga de apoyo, porque un molino se mueve hacia los lados * * (lo siento por esa descripci�n no t�cnica)?

    August 31, 2014 at 7:42 am |
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    September 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  7. tresorsdelavie

    I love sweet recipes! I'm a Case Western University student and I do a college food blog! My own simple recipes all under $8.

    September 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  8. Tori

    Great ideas here! I want to try the Cornflour-Coconut Halava.

    This year I'll be making Pomegranate Molasses Brisket, Saffron Rice, Pomegranate Glazed Salmon, Citrus Honey Glazed Veggies, Apple Honey Challah and Rosh Hashanah Sangria (l'chaim!). Recipes here:

    September 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  9. Sunshine Daydream

    The picture of honey inspired me to make a simple pleasure: apples and honey! Doesn't this look delicious?

    November 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  10. Tanto

    Indian Jews – What the Shiva? Listening to yiddish in a heavy Indian accent would leave me holding my sides in laughter. I know, I know, I'm a bery bery bad perszon.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • sevenveils

      Well, I'll ah be damned

      September 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  11. Suz


    Thank you!

    September 10, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  12. Katie

    Last Minute Recipes + 10 Foods that are essential for any Rosh Hashanah celebrations ... ....... L’shannah Tovah!

    September 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
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