By Aida Kandi
"Don't make a big tsimiss" my mother used to say. Whenever some one was causing a commotion in the kitchen or whether she was soothing someone's hurt feelings, "Don't make a big tsimmis over it" was the expression that she used.
To me, a tsimmis was something bothersome, something to be avoided. Yet tsimmis was also a delicious side dish to our family gatherings.
No wonder that I equated a tsimmis as a difficult dish to cook.
Imagine my consternation when my husband asked me to make up a tsimmis! I was literally frightened out of my wits. After trying all my excuses why I couldn't make it, I decided that perhaps I should council with my mother. Interestingly enough, she told me that a tsimiss is a very simple dish. Why, I asked, did she always say not to make a big tsimiss about something, indicating that a tsimiss was a difficult dish?
Well, that is just an old Yiddish expression she told me. A tsimiss is a very simple dish to make. And so I tried it, and sure enough, it was a big hit, and simple enough to make.
Soak the prunes overnight in water so that they expand. Slice the carrots and sweet potatoes (or yams) into small slices. Boil the carrots and sweet potatoes (or yams) on a medium flame until they are tender. Stir frequently so that they do not stick to the bottom and burn and add water if necessary.
When the carrots and sweet potatoes (or yams) are nice and tender, put them into a baking dish and add the other ingredients plus some of the liquid. Stir them together and bake them uncovered in a medium oven, about 350 degrees, until the moisture begins to disappear.
When the mixture begins to look thick, but not dry, take it out. It is delicious as a festive side dish with meat or chicken. It's very easy to reheat and can be made ahead of time and warmed up prior to serving.
For a variation, try adding dry apricots. Also cooking a small apple with the carrots and sweet potatoes is a nice variation. My mother actually put the tsimis in the oven once with marshmellows on top; they melted and formed one of the best toppings for a great side dish that I ever ate! Try it - its easy!
from the January 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine