Honi The Circle Maker’s Carob Delicacies

— by Ronit Treatman

One of the most beloved stories told during Tu B’Shevat is that of Honi The Circle Maker Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit, 23a.

Honi was a great teacher who lived in Ancient Israel. He was known for drawing a circle on the ground and then praying inside it. He would not leave the circle until he was done.  

One day, he came upon an old man holding a shovel and a tiny sapling. Honi asked the old man, “Why are you planting this small tree? How long will it be before it can bear fruit for you to eat?”

The old man responded, “This is a carob tree. It will take seventy years for it to give fruit.”  

“Then why plant it?” Honi asked. “You will not live to enjoy it!”

The rest of the story and two carob recipes after the jump.

The old man responded, “When I was a young boy, I ate the fruit from the carob tree that my grandfather had planted. Now I am planting a carob tree for my grandchildren.”  

Honi smiled and continued on his way to teach at his Beit Midrash. Honi was very tired. He decided to rest for a while. Honi made himself comfortable on some grass, and watched the old man finish planting the carob tree. Honi closed his eyes and slept. He slept for seventy years! When he woke up, he saw a boy picking ripe carob pods from a large tree.  

Honi asked the boy, “Who planted this tree?”

“My great-grandfather,” replied the boy.

Honi understood what the old man was doing all those years ago. Each generation needs to take care of nature and leave a legacy of trees for those to come.  

Tasting treats made with carob during the Tu B’Shevat Seder is just as much fun as recounting this story. I like to use carob “honey.” This is the thick syrup that forms inside the carob pod when it is ripe. You may purchase carob syrup here.

Dibs Kharoub U Tahineh: Tahini and Carob Spread
This is a very ancient Middle Eastern recipe, the Biblical peanut butter and jelly.

  • Raw Tahini (available here)
  • Carob Syrup
  1. Mix one tablespoon of tahini with one tablespoon of carob syrup.  
  2. Spread over fresh, hot pita bread.

One of the most exotic eggplant dishes I have ever tried is a meze traditionally served in Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. It is made with grilled eggplant, almonds, and carob honey.

Adapted from The Middle Eastern Kitchen by Ghillie Bassan

  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons carob syrup
  • 3 tablespoons roasted, chopped almonds
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt (labneh is best)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped mint leaves

  1. Roast the eggplants until they become soft.
  2. Allow the eggplants to cool to room temperature.
  3. Cut the eggplants in half, and scoop out the flesh.
  4. Mash the eggplant.
  5. Mix in all the other ingredients.
  6. Serve with fresh, hot pita bread.


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