Like almost everything that has to do with Jewish traditions, there are two interpretations of the Carrot Tzimmes, baked or stewed sliced carrots with honey, dried fruit or raisins, and whatever spices your prefer. The Yiddish word for carrot is mehren, which is very close to the Yiddish word for more – mehr. The argument seems to focus on this word: more of what? The older tradition, going back to medieval Germany, simply replaced fenugreek, a vegetable unheard of in Europe, with carrots, pronouncing the same blessing: “May our merits increase.” In other words, we are requesting more opportunities to do more good deeds, so that our merits should increase. Doing good deeds is what will make the year sweet.
The other, more modern opinion, is that sliced carrots resemble gold coins, so by serving them on Rosh Hashana, we ask to increase our prosperity. Simply put, having more money will sweeten the year. I don’t see anything wrong with prosperity as a concept, but I seriously believe that it’s not worth a special holiday request, and it’s His business anyway, so the request is, in effect, invalid. In any event, I’d rather stick to traditional blessings; they worked for our grandparents – they should work for us as well.
There are as many different recipes for Mehren Tzimmes, as there are Jewish grandmothers remembered in numerous kitchens around the world. Mine is bare-bones basic. Carrots are sliced – they do look like coins – covered with water and cooked for about 20 minutes, until they become soft and most of the water evaporates.
I add honey, raisins and cinnamon, but you can add any dry fruit you like, as well as any spices you prefer. I’ve seen tzimmes with nutmeg, cardamon, and even hot pepper. I draw the line at marshmallows, though, but if that’s what it takes to make it more attractive to the kids, go ahead!
Let it simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes, until honey is mostly absorbed and raisins plump up. Give it a stir once in a while so it doesn’t stick.
We like carrots on the dry side, almost candied, so I let more honey be absorbed, but it could be made more gooey, if you wish. Serve it cold, and remember the blessings: let our good deeds increase and sweeten the year! Shana Tova u’Metuka! A Zis Yor!
The dissemination of all my holiday recipes to a wider audience has been made possible through a valiant effort of Esme, The Recipe Hunter, of https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com, and her fantastic Recipe Exchange program. Thank you again, dear Esme, for performing this vitally important service for the community.
- 3 – 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup (1 oz) raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Cover carrots with water, bring to boil, simmer for 20 – 25 minutes until soft. Let most of the liquid evaporate.
- Add the rest of ingredients, stir, bring to boil, simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve cold.