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 Simha’s recipe:
- 5 tart eating apples
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- (optional) rosewater
- Peel, core and quarter the apples
- Pierce each piece in several places with a fork
- In a large saucepan, heat the sugar in the water until it is completely dissolved
- Arrange the apple pieces in the pan, preferably in a single layer
- 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.
- Uncover and continue simmering gently for about 30 minutes more until the apple pieces are brown and the syrup thick.
- (Optional) Add rosewater and simmer a little longer.
- 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.