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Need help replicating my bubbies tzimmes

I am determined for yomtov this year to replicate my bubbies tzimmes, which no one in my family has been able to do for the past 10 years. She gave me the recipe once, but I haven't been able to find it in years.

Her tzimmes was very simple...only potatoes and carrots with prunes placed on top of the dish (not cooked in). It was (for lack of a better word) mushy, but not watery and not overly sweet. I think that there may have been some brown sugar and other spices but can't remember for sure.

Does anyone make something similar? Should I use an equal quantity of potatoes and carrots? Any advice on sugar or other spices? I don't recall a cinnamon or cloves flavour but was thinking maybe pepper.

If it makes any difference to finding a similar recipe, she was born in Germany and lived most of her life in South Africa.

Thanks!

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  1. By potatoes, do you mean sweet potatoes, or white ones? The latter would be unusual.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GilaB

      Definitely white potatoes. Giving it more thought, I'm not even sure it should be called tzimmes!

      1. re: CarNut

        Gil Marks says tzimmis potatoes were white; sweet potato tzimmis is an American innovation.

    2. Bubbie used chicken (or duck or goose) fat. The flavor is subtly different from the vegetable oils most modern cooks substitute.

      5 Replies
      1. re: AdinaA

        The tzimmes recipes I have seen(used) do not use oil - just water, honey and little salt - typically carrots and prunes but also sweet potatos and Matza balla

        1. re: weinstein5

          They don't start by browning onions? Interesting.

          1. re: AdinaA

            Adina,
            I don't use any oil or fat or onions, but put in a whole brisket that lets out plenty of fat.

            If I don't make it with the brisket, there's fat in the matzo balls.....

            1. re: bagelman01

              I am seriously considering crashing Bagelman01's Yom Tov table. For the brisket tzimmis.

              Would the Chowhound administrators kick me off the board if I did?

              1. re: AdinaA

                You'd me more than welcome. Plenty of room at the table and the guest suite is empty (eldest daughter will not be home this year) I also make this for Pesach as we don't dry roast meat for the s'darim and we do eat gebrokts (Nice to be a misnagid).

                My father's mother used to make it without knaidlach for Rosh Hashanah, but made thick egg noodles instead that were cooked in the tzimmes.

                One year, 1962 I think, after my grandfather had had a heart attack and had to cut back on red meat she made it using thighs from big (8lb) soup chickens and the egg noodles. It was like eat a sweet version of Chicken and dumplings.

                50 years later and I can still taste it.

                That grandmother seldom cooked, but when she did it was extraordinary.

      2. What I might try doing is to cook the (white) potatoes and carrots with a bit of water until they reach the proper consistency. Then I can add salt, pepper and/or honey as needed to get the taste I'm after.

        3 Replies
        1. re: CarNut

          I asked my 90 year old mother about this (she's the German side of the family) said that her Paternal Grandmother used to make a dish similar to this.
          She par boiled peeled and halved white potatoes and quartered (lengthwise) Carrots, laid them in a baking dish, sprinkled with salt, pepper , then put dried fruit in top (prunes, raisins, pears, apples, depending waht was in the larder) she then squeezed the juice of two small oranges over the top and placed in the oven to bake next to the roasting chicken.
          By par boiling the vegetables, and leaving uncovered, it got mushy and wasn't waterty.

          I never tasted this recipe, as my mother hates cooked carrots and never made it.
          She did say that it was never called Tzimmes, as that would be a Yiddish word not German, and German Jews don't generally speak the language of the peasants from the east (My grandmother's expression, not mine <VBG>) They used to refer to it as: Möhren und Kartoffeln, which just means carrots and potatoes (made sweet for the New Year).

          I make a Gantzeh Tzimmes, with sweet Potatoes, Knaidlach, Honey,cinnamon, a whole brisket and as many different kinds of dried fruit as I can find. This comes from my father's side, the Litvaks from the east.

            1. re: CarNut

              Your welcome.
              BTW, I lived in South Africa for a while in the late 70s, and the tzimmes i remember being served at several homes was made with white potatoes and not overly sweet.

              i

        2. Non an answer to the OP.

          But, I think a tzimmes involving chick peas could be really nice way to make a traditional-feeling Rosh HaShanah meal for vegans.

          Or work as a both a side dish and main course if some vegan guests were expected. I like to add a main course for vegans that works as a side dish for everyone.