One of the thing I enjoyed the most from my Finnish language and culture course was that I could get to know so many other cultures I didn’t know before. My class was especially multicultural: there were even times when everyone of us would be from a different country! In short, the world in a room! The thing that always surprised me is how well we did get along in 13 months of work shoulder to shoulder. Sometimes if I think about it, I’m just blown off by this. Of course, with some you would bond more than others.
One of the people I bonded the most with is my friend Zahra. She is originally from Afghanistan, but grew up in Iran. I would always be fascinated from her accounts about her culture. The food she prepares (and we used to sometimes share during lunch breaks) is really delicious. So, when she told me she would go to Iran to visit, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to savor some new flavors from there. And here they are! Almost everything was something really new for me, but I’ll try to give you a little peek in this very fascinating culture. So here we go with some traditional Iranian desserts!
Let’s start with (maybe!) my favorite.
This delicious biscuit has a delicate flavor of wheat germ, saffron, cardamom, pistachios, almonds and rose water. The structure is quite crispy, but at the same time it melts in the mouth. I was advised to savor those biscuits with some black tea and I assure you that they get along so well together!
This is a fruit roll made out of plum. It’s nice because it’s not too sweet, actually lavashak is sugar-, dairy- and gluten-free! I’ll have to try to make it myself when it’ll be the plum season 🙂
Did you know? Halvah is a word from ancient Hebrew that means dessert.
There are basically two different kinds of halvah: the flour-based and the nut butter-based. The halvah I had was a sesame paste, or tahini, -based. The structure of this dessert can remind of fudge. It is to be stored in refrigerator, so that it can maintain its shape, unless it would melt at room temperature. It is usually eaten for breakfast spread on a bread. The flavor of halvah is quite strong and powerful and the nuts are surely having the main role. This halvah had also pistachios in it, but there are so many other variations and I guess that one can use imagination.
As an Italian, the first thing that came into my mind as I saw for the first time gaz is nougat. In fact, they look very similar, but the taste is very different. The main flavor in gaz in surely rose water and that’s the reason why this little dessert is so refreshing. The gaz I tasted was quite hard, but Zahra told me that usually this dessert is soft (I guess that, like nougat, it can be found in both ways).
Lastly, Zahra brought me also this amazing Afghan pine seeds, surely the best pine seeds I’ve ever tasted. Actually this variety grows only in Afghanistan. Their flavor was so intense, it is almost unbelievable!
I hope you enjoyed this post, a little bit different from my usual ones. I wasn’t even sure whether to list this post under the Food or the Travel category. This was a little experiment to show you, my dear readers, what I mean when I say that food is part of traveling. I’ve never been in Iran, or Afghanistan, but still I now feel I know something more of those places. And can’t you picture yourself, in a market between finely decorated carpets and tables of spices, sitting on a little metal table with a cup of tea and some Sohan biscuits?
Thank you so much Zahra for this treats you brought me from your trip!