For Passover, we have invited Lainie Cadry of @lainieskitchen to enlighten us on all things Passover, and more specifically the art and heritage of building a traditional seder plate.
Author: Lainie Cadry
The Jewish festival of Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery over 3000 years ago. The commencement of the festival is marked by a Passover Seder or feast. Central to the evening is the seder plate, consisting of six symbolic foods which enliven the recounting of a 3000-year-old story.
Similar to the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt, my grandparents also fled persecution, from both Europe and Iran. My paternal grandparents Rebecca and Jacques Cadry left Persia (Iran) in the 1950s, seeking a safer life for their family. My maternal grandfather, Gershon Wilkenfeld, escaped Nazi Germany to Israel at just thirteen years old. Many years later, he was reunited with his father in Australia, the only living survivor of his family. My family’s heritage greatly shapes both the way I cook and engage with food and the significance of its presentation.
In our family we have a tradition where before Passover comes in, many of my aunties and cousins come together to make the Charoset (Hallegeh), the sweet date and nut paste which sits on the seder plate, so adored by all my family and friends.
My family’s seder plate, whilst holding true to the essence of tradition, is shaped and influenced by my family’s unique cultural heritage. The influences of both my father’s Persian and mother’s, Eastern European heritage creates a kind of fusion where you’ll see distinctly Persian ingredients including pistachios, dates and pomegranate, combined with a more eastern European palette, including apples, walnuts, almonds and sweet wine.
80g unsalted slivered or blanched almonds, roasted
80g raw walnuts
80g unsalted shelled pistachios, roasted
80g unsalted, roasted cashews
450g medjool dates, pitted and halved
150g fuji apple (approx 1 large), peeled, cored and cubed
200g soft pear (approx 1 large), peeled, cored and cubed
115g ripe banana (approx 1 large) peeled
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
70ml sweet kosher wine
100ml unsweetened pomegranate juice
Lainie’s Persian Charoset (Hallaq) Recipe
Symbolism: The Charoset represents the clay used for the bricks and mortar used by the Israelites during their enslavement.
In a food processor, pulse nuts together until they resemble a course rubble, pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Next, place the apple, pear and banana into the food processor and blitz till you form a lumpy paste. Pour the mixture on top of the nut mixture and set aside.
Place the dates, wine, pomegranate juice, cinnamon and sea salt into the food processor. Blitz till smooth and well combined. Pour mixture into the bowl with nuts and apple mixture. Mix all three components with a spatula or wooden spoon till welcome combined.
Serve the Charoset on your Seder plate, as a side dish, with matzah or any application you please.
Symbolism: The Zeroa or Shank bone represents the Passover lamb sacrifice offered on the eve of the exodus from Egypt.
Preparation: Obtain a raw chicken neck or shank bone. Roast on an open flame till browned and cooked through (The Zeroa is not eaten but rather used for its symbolic value). Place into your designated Zeroa bowl.
Symbolism: A hard boiled or roasted egg represents the circle or continuity of life.
Preparation: Boil one egg in hot water at a rolling boil for 10-12 minutes. Once boiled allow to cool. Additionally, unce boiled, one may scorch the shell by placing the boiled egg directly over an open flame till browned. Place into your designated Beitzah bowl.
Symbolism: Karpas symbolises rebirth and new life, however on the night of the Seder we dip our Karpas into salt water to remind us of the tears shed by the Israelites during their slavery.
Preparation: Wash a bunch of flat leaf parsley and dry well. Remove the tough stems from the leaves. Place into your designated Karpas bowl.
Maror (Bitter Herb)
Symbolism: Maror or bitter herbs reminds us of the bitterness of slavery experienced by our forbearers in Egypt.
Preparation: Obtain a fresh piece of horseradish root. Peel the root. Once the dirty exterior is removed, peel the root into thin strips or grate. Place into your designated Marror bowl.
Chazeret (Second Bitter Herb)
Symbolism: Chazeret is the second bitter component to the seder plate, which symbolizes that the Jewish peoples time in Egypt which started softly and finished with hard, bitter labour.
Preparation: Obtain fresh romaine lettuce of endive. Remove the root, separate leaves. Wash and dry well. Place into your designated Chazeret bowl.