As told to Rachel Bernstein, writer for the Hillel International Writers Program.
“Family recipes, passed down from generation to generation, bring me closer to my Persian roots. We keep our culture alive through food, especially on Jewish holidays like Passover. Our halegh, the Farsi word for charoset, is my favorite recipe. Hands down. This recipe is one that we learned from my paternal grandma. Her name is Parvaneh, a Persian name meaning ‘butterfly.’ Every year before Passover, she and her sisters spend an entire day preparing pounds upon pounds of halegh for our entire extended family. On the first night of Passover, we all leave the seder with a pot of halegh. My family piles it on matzah for breakfast. We snack on it throughout the day. Within three days, our halegh is gone. Oftentimes, I wonder why we don't make it year round. This halegh recipe is uniquely Persian. Uniquely me. The Persian pride my family instilled in me runs deep, and I’m so happy I have the opportunity to share my culture and background with others.” — Hannah Shayefar, President of the Persian Community Club at Hillel at the University of California, Los Angeles
Combine equal parts almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts in a food processor. Make sure to pulse and take breaks. You can also use a meat grinder.
Add a handful of pitted medjool dates cut into small pieces.
Add 3 peeled apples, 2 peeled pears, and 1 ½ bananas.
To taste, add a couple teaspoons of red wine vinegar (you can also use Manischewitz wine), and around 1 cup of pomegranate juice (as necessary). The nuts will absorb the juices with time, and the texture will thicken.
Mix in ½ tsp of finely crushed black pepper (not all Persians add pepper to the recipe).
(Note: This is a very forgiving recipe! You can add or subtract as you wish to get the right consistency.)