wahbaBy Rachel Wahba


March 18, 2013

In my grandmother’s time, making what we Iraqis call silan (see-lan), a syrup, made from dates, was a daylong labor of love. She cooked and stirred and squeezed the dates dry in cheesecloth for hours. I watched how the brown juice turned into thick syrup, silan! Iraqi dates deliver the thickest syrup. The mixture in the pot glistened. “It’s not ready till you see that shine,” she taught me.

When you mix finely ground walnuts with the silan (usually at around a 4:1 ratio of silan to nuts) to thicken the texture into a “mortar,” you have Iraqi haroset.

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