This Rosh Hashanah classic is easy and practically guarantees sweet things to come. Tzimmes has many regional variations, and this one is what I think of as the standard Israeli version, with orange juice and raisins.Yum
Though it enjoys arguably more currency in Israel than on American shores, throughout the Jewish world, tzimmes is an iconic Ashkenazi dish, the kind where the only correct version is your mother’s. It was one of the dishes my mom made for festive dinners throughout the year, not only at holidays or just at Rosh Hashanah. In fact, she had a wintry version (cooked) and a summery version (raw), so ever-present was it at gatherings of family and friends. And, memorably, my savta had a black cat named Tzimmes, so called because she, strangely for a feline, enjoyed this vegetarian dish.
This particular version of tzimmes is not my mom’s, but what I think of as archetypal tzimmes. It’s got the liquids cooked down to form a glaze for the carrots, plus a cinnamon stick for warmth, and plenty of raisins. In the photos I’ve used baby carrots, an easy choice popular in Israel. However, if you’re making this dish for Rosh Hashanah, it’s traditionally made with regular carrots sliced in coins, symbolizing the wish for prosperity.
How to make tzimmes
Making tzimmes is easy: you begin by cooking the carrots in a bit of margarine. Yes, margarine. Of course, if you’re making a dairy version, you could use butter. Every single Israeli recipe I looked at had specifically margarine, no doubt reflecting the 20th-century heyday of tzimmes, but also, if that’s what the grandmas say to do, we do. I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (no affiliation).
After five minutes swimming around in the margarine, you add in the freshly-squeezed orange juice, honey, raisins, cinnamon, and enough water to just cover the carrots (I measured it to 1 1/2 cups, but you don’t need to be exact here). Cover and cook for half an hour on a low flame. After that, you remove the lid, raise the heat a little, and cook down the remaining liquids until they form a glaze.
Looking to round out your Rosh Hashanah meal?
- Rosh Hashanah Roast Chicken with Apples and Honey
- Apple Noodle Kugel with Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs
- Outrageously Good Honey Cake
Traditional Carrot Tzimmes (parve)
- 2 lbs carrots, regular or baby – 1 kg
- 3 Tbsp margarine – 40 g – I use Earth Balance sticks
- 1 orange – juiced
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 ½ cups water – 360 ml
- 1 cup raisins – any kind
- 2 cinnamon sticks – or heaping 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- If using regular carrots, peel them, then slice into relatively thick rounds.
- In a skillet (with a lid) over medium-low heat, melt the margarine and add the carrots. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
- To the carrots, add the orange juice, honey, water, raisins, and cinnamon. The liquids should just cover the carrots. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, until the carrots have softened.
- Remove the lid from the skillet and raise the heat slightly. Continue to cook until the liquids have reduced down to a glaze, 3-4 minutes.