L’shana tova tiketevu, may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year and may 5768 be a great year for all our Jewish readers. These wishes go specially to my best friends Robin and Gabi, to the sweetest Jewish girl I know, Amy in New Zealand and my other daughter, Alexi (known to my sons as Alex chick). I love you all and thanks for always being there for me, may the year ahead be sweeter than ever.
In Morocco the Jews serve this dish on the second night – never on the eve of the Festival because, they say, a prune is black and may not be part with the lightness and brightness of the first day of the New Year! So, as the Jews from Russia and Poland make their pflaumen tsimmes (dried fruit & honey symbolizing hope for sweetness in the forthcoming year), the Moroccan Jews use this dish in their celebrations.
Traditionally a shoulder of lamb on the bone is dissected into small cubes and the stew is then simmered on top of the stove – it certainly gives a better flavour, but we used a leg of lamb, took the meat off the bone and cooked the bones with the stew, removing the bones afterwards. It can be done in the oven, but since I wanted to watch it, it was left right there on top of the stove and we used prunes without pips. In closing, did you know that the oldest, and thus the first apiary known to man was found in Israel and it was used by bee-keepers around 900 BC
2 kgs shoulder of lamb, boned cubes plus bones
350 grams prunes, pips removed
2 tablespoons honey
225 grams onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
ground pepper to taste
kosher salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
850 ml hot water
50 grams toasted, slivered almonds
Sauté onions until dark gold in heavy based pot or a casserole if you are going to do it in the oven. Add the meat and the oyster sauce and fry until the meat is browned and the onions a dark colour, but not burnt. Add all the spices as well as some salt but take care not to oversalt here. Cover with hot water, stir well and simmer over low heat or transfer to the oven (set at 150 C) and cook for about an hour. Now add the prunes, the honey, check the liquid, adding if necessary and cook for another 20 minutes or so.
Serve with the toasted almonds.