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Shared by Rottem Lieberson

A Persian Grandmother and Her Secret Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Shared by Rottem Lieberson

Rottem (center) with Hanom (left) and her Swiss grandmother Giza (right) at her Bat Mitzvah in Israel in 1979.
Rottem (center) with Hanom (left) and her Swiss grandmother Giza (right) at her Bat Mitzvah in Israel in 1979.

A Persian Grandmother and Her Secret Rosh Hashanah Recipes

Family Journey

Tehran, IranSha’ar Haliyah (near Haifa), IsraelJerusalem
Tel Aviv
13 recipes
Sweet Challah

Sweet Challah

2 challahs1 h 40 min active + 12 to 14 H inactive

Ingredients

For the dough starter

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1 cup room temperature water

For the dough

  • 5½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • Dough starter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil + more for greasing
  • 1 to 1¼ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the caramelized quince

  • 4 quinces, peeled, cored and sliced into 12 wedges lengthwise each
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick 

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon water
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
Olive Salad With Pomegranate

Olive Salad With Pomegranate

4 to 6 servings15 min

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pitted green olives
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate concentrate
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped, divided
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon roasted walnuts, roughly crushed for garnish
Cucumber, Mint, and Sumac Salad

Cucumber, Mint, and Sumac Salad

4 to 6 servings10 min

Ingredients

  • 12 persian cucumbers, cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 1½  tablespoon ground sumac, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)
Red Cabbage, Date, and Beet Salad

Red Cabbage, Date, and Beet Salad

4 to 6 servings1 h 15 min

Ingredients

  • 4 large beets
  • ½ red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 5 dried dates, pitted and thinly sliced lengthwise 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro or scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
Fried Eggplant With Mint Dressing

Fried Eggplant With Mint Dressing

4-6 servings45 min

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced into ¼-inch pieces crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable or grapeseed oil for frying

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate concentrate
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds for garnish

Ashe Anar (Pomegranate Soup With Meatballs)

Ashe Anar (Pomegranate Soup With Meatballs)

8 servings2 h

Ingredients

For the soup

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup yellow lentils
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint plus more for garnish, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 bunches scallions (about 20), finely chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate concentrate
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup granulated sugar (optional)

For the meatballs

  • 1½ pounds ground beef 
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pomegranate seeds for garnish

Khoresh e Beh (Lamb Stew With Quince and Dried Apricot)

Khoresh e Beh (Lamb Stew With Quince and Dried Apricot)

4-6 servings2 h

Ingredients

  • 5 quinces or red apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1½ pounds lamb (neck/shoulder cut), cut into 1½ -inch cubes
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried rose petals
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 cups water
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose  flour
  • 10 dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Dolmeh Beh (Quince Stuffed With Beef and Cardamom)

Dolmeh Beh (Quince Stuffed With Beef and Cardamom)

9 to 12 pieces1 h

Ingredients

  • 3 quinces
  • 2 cardamom pods

For the filling

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup roasted unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons barberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon advieh (Persian spice mix)

For the sauce

  • 2 saffron threads
  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • ½ jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

For garnish

Roasted unsalted pistachios, finely chopped

Tahdig (Crispy Saffron Rice With Barberries and Potatoes)

Tahdig (Crispy Saffron Rice With Barberries and Potatoes)

6 to 8 servings2 h

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • ¾ cup barberries
  • 7 threads saffron
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the rice

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2¼ cups basmati rice 
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices crosswise
Tut (Persian Marzipan)

Tut (Persian Marzipan)

20 pieces20 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 10 roasted unsalted pistachios, cut in half lengthwise
Faloodeh (Chilled Apple Drink With Rose Water)

Faloodeh (Chilled Apple Drink With Rose Water)

6 cups10 min active + 2 to 4 h inactive

Ingredients

  • 7 red apples, cored and grated
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • Water
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 lemon with the peel, thinly sliced crosswise
Pasta With Yogurt, Beans, and Herbs

Pasta With Yogurt, Beans, and Herbs

4-6 servingsOvernight soaking (optional) + 1 h and 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black beans or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup black or green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 32 ounces goat yogurt
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh dill leaves, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons salt 
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 3 ounces roquefort cheese (or any other blue cheese), crumbled
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pound dried penne pasta
Meatballs With Cherries

Meatballs With Cherries

4-6 servings45 min

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baharat spice mix
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup beef broth, chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ green chili, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pitted fresh cherries or defrosted frozen cherries (plus 1 more cup if not using sour plums) 
  • 1 cup small green sour plums (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon plum jam or sugar
Recipes
1
Sweet Challah

Sweet Challah

2 challahs1 h 40 min active + 12 to 14 H inactive

Ingredients

For the dough starter

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1 cup room temperature water

For the dough

  • 5½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • Dough starter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil + more for greasing
  • 1 to 1¼ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the caramelized quince

  • 4 quinces, peeled, cored and sliced into 12 wedges lengthwise each
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick 

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon water
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
2
Olive Salad With Pomegranate

Olive Salad With Pomegranate

4 to 6 servings15 min

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pitted green olives
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate concentrate
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped, divided
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon roasted walnuts, roughly crushed for garnish
3
Cucumber, Mint, and Sumac Salad

Cucumber, Mint, and Sumac Salad

4 to 6 servings10 min

Ingredients

  • 12 persian cucumbers, cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 1½  tablespoon ground sumac, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)
4
Red Cabbage, Date, and Beet Salad

Red Cabbage, Date, and Beet Salad

4 to 6 servings1 h 15 min

Ingredients

  • 4 large beets
  • ½ red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 5 dried dates, pitted and thinly sliced lengthwise 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro or scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
5
Fried Eggplant With Mint Dressing

Fried Eggplant With Mint Dressing

4-6 servings45 min

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced into ¼-inch pieces crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable or grapeseed oil for frying

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate concentrate
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds for garnish

6
Ashe Anar (Pomegranate Soup With Meatballs)

Ashe Anar (Pomegranate Soup With Meatballs)

8 servings2 h

Ingredients

For the soup

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup yellow lentils
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint plus more for garnish, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 bunches scallions (about 20), finely chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate concentrate
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup granulated sugar (optional)

For the meatballs

  • 1½ pounds ground beef 
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pomegranate seeds for garnish

7
Khoresh e Beh (Lamb Stew With Quince and Dried Apricot)

Khoresh e Beh (Lamb Stew With Quince and Dried Apricot)

4-6 servings2 h

Ingredients

  • 5 quinces or red apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1½ pounds lamb (neck/shoulder cut), cut into 1½ -inch cubes
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried rose petals
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 cups water
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose  flour
  • 10 dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
8
Dolmeh Beh (Quince Stuffed With Beef and Cardamom)

Dolmeh Beh (Quince Stuffed With Beef and Cardamom)

9 to 12 pieces1 h

Ingredients

  • 3 quinces
  • 2 cardamom pods

For the filling

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup roasted unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons barberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon advieh (Persian spice mix)

For the sauce

  • 2 saffron threads
  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • ½ jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

For garnish

Roasted unsalted pistachios, finely chopped

9
Tahdig (Crispy Saffron Rice With Barberries and Potatoes)

Tahdig (Crispy Saffron Rice With Barberries and Potatoes)

6 to 8 servings2 h

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • ¾ cup barberries
  • 7 threads saffron
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the rice

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2¼ cups basmati rice 
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices crosswise
10
Tut (Persian Marzipan)

Tut (Persian Marzipan)

20 pieces20 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 10 roasted unsalted pistachios, cut in half lengthwise
11
Faloodeh (Chilled Apple Drink With Rose Water)

Faloodeh (Chilled Apple Drink With Rose Water)

6 cups10 min active + 2 to 4 h inactive

Ingredients

  • 7 red apples, cored and grated
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • Water
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 lemon with the peel, thinly sliced crosswise
12
Pasta With Yogurt, Beans, and Herbs

Pasta With Yogurt, Beans, and Herbs

4-6 servingsOvernight soaking (optional) + 1 h and 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black beans or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup black or green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 32 ounces goat yogurt
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh dill leaves, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons salt 
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 3 ounces roquefort cheese (or any other blue cheese), crumbled
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pound dried penne pasta
13
Meatballs With Cherries

Meatballs With Cherries

4-6 servings45 min

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baharat spice mix
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup beef broth, chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ green chili, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pitted fresh cherries or defrosted frozen cherries (plus 1 more cup if not using sour plums) 
  • 1 cup small green sour plums (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon plum jam or sugar

Listen to the Story

·

Read more about Rottem Lieberson in “The Shavuot Pasta on the Laundry Line” and try her recipes for pasta with yogurt, beans, and herbs, and meatballs with cherries.

Acclaimed Israeli cookbook author Rottem Lieberson remembers eyeing her grandmother Hanom in her kitchen, carefully watching her moves as she added turmeric, saffron, and numerous other spices to a large pot on the stove. Guests would come over for a meal and remark on how good the food was. They would ask, Rottem recalls: “What did you put inside it?” Her grandmother would reply: “Nothing. Just a little bit of salt.”  

Rottem never helped out in her grandmother’s kitchen and neither did anyone else, including Hanom’s three daughters. Like many of the best Persian home cooks, says Rottem, Hanom kept her recipes secret, even from family. In Persian culture, “This is the power of the mothers,” she explains.

When Rottem was just one, her parents moved from Kibbutz Naan in the center of the country to Tel Aviv, very close to Hanom’s home. “Most likely because my father wanted to be close to his mother's kitchen,” Rottem told us as we cooked with her earlier this year. She spent nearly every afternoon after school with her grandmother. Aunts and uncles always visited throughout the week too. Hanom would call the family to announce the daily menu and her children and their spouses would stop by for their favorite dishes, sometimes with bunches of fresh herbs in tow.

Hanom’s 10 children were born in Iran and after her husband passed away, she moved with nine of her children from Tehran to Shaar Haaliya, a settlement camp for immigrants to Israel, in 1955. Her eldest son stayed in Iran and later passed away, Rottem explains. Tragically, another of her sons passed away after the move. 

Hanom held tightly to her eight children in Israel. “They would come to eat all the time. This was the most important relationship,” Rottem adds, and it centered around the table. “Any sign of emotion was expressed through food and cooking.”

On holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Hanom hosted up to 100 guests in her Tel Aviv apartment. The gatherings were “chaotic, but with a lot of love,” Rottem recalls fondly. The 30 or so grandchildren would escape to Hanom’s room and have pillow fights as the adults talked and lingered. 

Her menu for each holiday remained the same, unchanging from one year to the next. “It doesn’t change at all and I love it,” Rottem says. On Rosh Hashanah, she served khoresh sib, a stewed meat dish made with fruit, gondi, anshe anar or meatballs with pomegranate soup, rice with barberries, a cold apple drink called faloodeh, and more. And following Persian tradition, she used expensive ingredients as a wish for a prosperous year. 

It is in this repetition of dishes and traditions that a legacy was built, Rottem says. “This is the legacy, this is the power. I believe you give it to your children. They move it to their children. It’s in your body, in the blood.” Rottem continues to serve several of Hanom’s dishes at her Rosh Hashanah table, along with others she’s created. 

Today, much of Rottem’s work as a blogger and cookbook author focuses on Persian cooking. “I feel the power of those recipes,” she explains. Some are generations old and others are her interpretation, but “but still, the taste, the base is there… Food that is going generation to generation has so much responsibility.”

Photographer: Penny de los Santos. Prop Stylist: Mariana Velasquez.