Charoset, haroset, or charoses (Hebrew: [ḥărōset]) is a sweet, dark-colored, lumpy paste made of fruits and nuts served primarily during the Passover Seder. Its color and texture are meant to recall the mortar with which the Israelites bonded bricks when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt. The word "charoset" comes from the Hebrew word cheres — חרס — "clay."
The charoset serves an ancillary function with maror on the Passover Seder Plate. Before eating the maror — in the present day generally horseradish or romaine lettuce — participants dip the maror into the charoset and then shake off the charoset before eating the maror. This action symbolises how hard the Israelites worked in Egypt, combining a food that brings tears to the eyes (the maror) with one that resembles the mortar used to build Egyptian cities and storehouses (the charoset).
Despite its symbolism, the charoset is a tasty concoction and is a favorite of children. During the Seder meal, it may be eaten liberally, often spread on matzah.
Parts of the Jewish Diaspora in Persia have a tradition of including 40 ingredients in the halegh. The 40 signify the forty years of wandering in the desert. Included are all the fruits mentioned in the Song of Songs: apples 2-3, figs 2-13, pomegranates 4-3, grapes 2-15, walnuts 6-11, dates 7-7 with the addition of wine 1-2, saffron 4-14 and cinnamon 4-14 To arrive at the magical number of forty some recipes include the following ingredients:
1 to 5: five different varieties of apples
6 to 7: two different varieties of pears
8 to 10: three different varieties of grapes
11 to 12: two different varieties of dried figs
13: fresh ginger, grated
15 to 18: dried apricots, dried peaches, dried cherries and dried prunes
19 to 21: red raisins, yellow raisins, currants
22 to 26: the following nuts - walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios and filberts [all dried roasted without any oils and unsalted]
27: pomegranate juice
28 to 35: the following spices – cinnamon as the dominant spice, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, fenugreek seeds, saffron, cloves and black peppers [all crushed]
36 to 39: white wine, red wine, rose wine, vinegar
40: starting with the late 1950s bananas were added as well
All fruits are washed, dried, peeled and chopped and the shelled nuts are dry roasted. All the ingredients are traditionally mixed in a mortar, but since the 1990s, the use of an electric mixer has become common.