Apple Jam for a Sweet Year


This is not any old apple jam, this is “Marabba” – one of the culinary treasures of the Jews of Baghdad. Originally invented for New Year use as an alternative to the Ashkenazi custom of apple in honey, due to a kabbalistic aversion to using honey, Marabba is sinfully sweet and absolutely delicious. The amber-coloured pieces of apple are soft and succulent. It merits special mention in the writings of Rabbi Yoseph Haim (“Ben Ish Hai”) and has become an essential feature of many people’s New Year’s Eve meal.  

Here’s our treasured family recipe:


  • 5 tart eating apples
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • (optional) rosewater


  1. Peel, core and quarter the apples
  2. Pierce each piece in several places with a fork
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the sugar in the water until it is completely dissolved
  4. Arrange the apple pieces in the pan, preferably in a single layer
  5. Bring to the boil, turn the flame down to minimum, cover and simmer for one and a half hours, gently stirring occasionally so nothing sticks.
  6. Uncover and continue simmering gently for about 30 minutes more until the apple pieces are brown and the syrup thick.
  7. (Optional) Add rosewater and simmer a little longer.
  8. Store in the refrigerator; serve at room temperature.

To read more about the custom of eating “Simanim” (auspicious foods) at the New Year meal, click here.


One thought on “Apple Jam for a Sweet Year

  1. albert elfaks

    I just came across this beautiful entry. In Syria and Lebanon, they also served quince confis (a sort of apple), delicious tastes much more exciting than raw apples dipped in honey. I realized the qabbala aversion to dipping in honey when I read in the Ben Ish Hai that it is desirable to dip the bread on birkat hamotsi in powdered sugar, that resembles the salt, except that it is sweet. Back to our minhag!…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s