Sweet Delicacies for Rosh Hashanah
Including Teiglach, a specialty dessert that’s worth the effort.
On Rosh Hashanah, Jews around the world eat sweet foods so that the new year will be sweet, and avoid sour foods and nuts, whose numerical value is the equivalent to the numerical value of the Hebrew word for sin.
It’s traditional to start off with round challah and apples dipped in honey and a fish head, to be “as a head not as a tail,” and fish and carrot tzimmes.
Gezer, the Hebrew word for carrot, is phonologically linked to the Hebrew word gezeira, which means evil decree. The carrot prayer asks for G-d's protection from evil decrees.
In Yiddish carrots are called mehren, which means to increase. They are sliced into rounds that look like gold coins and sautéed in honey. Tzimmes is eaten at the New Year to attract prosperity. This recipe has been in my family for generations. It’s traditional to serve it through the entire High Holiday period.
- 6 medium-sized carrots
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¼ cups honey
- ¼ cup water
Peel carrots (use only fresh, never frozen or canned). Hand slice them into rounds. Don't use a food processor or else slices will be too limp.
Combine flour and oil into a thick brown paste (roux). Add carrots and gradually drizzle honey and water. Cover. Simmer until soft and sweet (about 30 minutes). Serves four. You can freeze this, but carrots will get a bit mushy.
Main Course: Couscous Aux Sept Legume – Morrocan Rosh Hashanah Stew
Couscous Aux Sept Legumes is a traditional Moroccan dish which Moroccan Jews turned into a Rosh Hashanah specialty by reading the number seven (sept is seven in French) with Jewish eyes. Jews live in the world of sevens. Rosh Hashanah is in Tishrei, the seventh month (counting from Nissan when Passover occurs). There are seven holidays in the Jewish year, seven years in the sabbatical cycle, seven sefirot (or Divine emanations) though some say there are ten.
Couscous, a grainy pasta made of tiny specks of semolina is a favorite with all Moroccans. On Rosh Hashanah Jews like to say that their merits and good deeds should be as numerous as the grains in couscous.
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 ½ – 2 lbs short ribs (flanken) or lamb shanks or red turkey meat cut into chunks
- 1 large onion or 2 small onions, diced fine
- 1 turnip or zucchini diced
- 1 cup diced pumpkin
- 2 medium-sized carrots diced
- 1 small sweet potato diced
- 1 small white potato diced
- 1 red pepper sliced thin (You can substitute with tomatoes, cabbage or turnip)
- Water to cover
- ½ teaspoon saffron or turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup brown sugar or honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions in two tablespoons oil until golden. Brown meat. Cover with water and cook on low flame, removing the scum. When meat is tender add vegetables and cook until soft (about ½ an hour). Spoon meat, vegetables and gravy over couscous and eat together. Serves four.
Teiglach, which is Yiddish for dough balls (teig is the Yiddish word for dough), is an old- fashioned Ashkenazi Rosh Hashanah cake assembled from hundreds of tiny balls of honey-soaked dough. A generation ago Teiglach was a staple in Jewish bakeries. Today you can hardly find it. Most people don’t bother to bake it because it is such a patchke (labor intensive job). Truthfully, it does take considerable time and patience to cut up and prepare all those tiny balls of dough, but the results are yummy and also quite pretty. If you are serious about trying this, get your kids or friends on board to help out.
Recipe adapted from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, by Marcy Goldman
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups flour plus additional flour, so mixture will form workable dough.
- Honey Syrup
- ¾ cup honey
- ⅓ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375º F or 185º C
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using paddle attachment of a standing mixer, mix dough ingredients. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Continue adding flour until you have a very soft workable dough. Roll out into pencil thin strips and cut into small (half inch) pieces. They can be a little bigger. Teiglach puffs don’t have to be perfect. Lay pieces on baking paper, so that they don’t touch and bake until they are puffed up and golden brown (about 20 minutes).
In a saucepan, heat honey and sugar together and boil very gently for three to five minutes until the syrup is amber colored. Lower heat, stir in dough puffs and nuts, if you’re using them, tossing them together with syrup. Take care not to break them. Turn off flame. Prepare lightly greased baking sheet. Dip hands in cold water. Pour honey-soaked dough puffs onto baking sheet and mold into pyramids. Let cool.
Teiglach are sticky. Store in airtight container. You can bake teiglach first and make syrup and assemble the next day. Freezes well.
Click here for more Rosh Hashanah recipes.
Excerpted from Jewish Soul Book: Traditional fare and what it means.