persian b a k l a v a • باقلوا

norooz, recipes, Uncategorized

baklava (or baghlava, as we call it) is a fan favorite for the Persian New Year (Norooz)–or any time really! a mixture of pistachios and almonds and rosewater and a hint of saffron make these so delicious they may not last too long…

overall, they’re not difficult to make but do require a lot of patience and diligence. the recipe below (adapted from here) is what i use when i’m making them for the new year party–read: a lotttt of people. so feel free to halve the recipe if you want a smaller batch!

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recipe:

ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw pistachios
  • 1 lb. peeled almonds
  • ½ lb. confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 package phyllo dough, thawed (i use roughly 20 sheets measuring 14×18 inches, so if the phyllo you buy is smaller–buy more!)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (have more on hand if you want it sweeter)
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, melted

for the syrup:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup rosewater
  • ⅛ teaspoon saffron

 

  • 1 half sheet pan (roughly 12x17x1)

 

instructions:

  • in a food processor, finely grind the almonds with the confectioner’s sugar until powdery. transfer to a bowl or freezer bag
  • grind the pistachios until a very fine texture, no coarse pieces. reserve about 2 tablespoons for garnish and add the rest to the almonds
  • mix the nuts and the cardamom together well, and add the granulated sugar (i recommend adding the tablespoons one at a time to test the sweetness, and add more or less than 2 tablespoons per your preference)

 

  • in a large sauce pan, stir the sugar and water until the sugar completely dissolves (about 10 – 15 minutes)
  • after the sugar dissolves, add the saffron and continue to stir for another few minutes
  • remove the syrup from the heat, add the rosewater and allow it to cool

 

  • pre-heat the oven to 350*F
  • brush the inside of your half sheet pan with butter and add the first layer of phyllo
  • brush the phyllo with butter, and add more phyllo
  • continue this until you have 5 layers of phyllo
  • add a layer of the nut mixture, generously covering the whole sheet and getting into the corners
  • pat down the nuts to make them slightly compact
  • add 5 more layers of phyllo (buttering each one)
  • add another layer of nuts
  • add another 5 layers of phyllo and butter, then one final layer of nuts
  • top the last layer of nuts off with 5 more layers of phyllo and butter between each layer and on the top layer
  • allow the top layer of butter to harden slightly to facilitated cutting
  • with a sharp paring knife, cut the baklava into squares or diamond shapes (easier in my opinion)

 

  • place pan in heated oven and bake until the top layer is golden
  • turn off oven and remove pan, pour half of the syrup over the baklava and place back into the off oven for 5 – 10 minutes
  • remove the baklava and pour the remaining syrup over it
  • garnish with reserved pistachio and rosebuds (can be found in a lot of middle eastern markets)
  • serve same day, or even a week later–it keeps well when wrapped well and placed in the fridge, just let it come to room temperature before serving

 

xx.

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spring into • n o r o o z

norooz, Uncategorized

the first day of spring is a joyous day all around the world–a sign that the harsh, cold winter season is over. the days leading up to the start of spring are generally filled with the exciting blooming of flowers and beautiful weather. for iranians (and all others who celebrate), the first day of spring is also the first day of a new year.

norooz (ئوروز, literally meaning new day) is the persian new year celebration, typically falling on the 20th or 21st of March, and lasting 13 days. this has always been my favorite holiday (sorry christmas!), and though i’ve never been able to actually celebrate it in iran, having my (very large) persian family around to celebrate the new year with every year makes it very special.

 

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part of the tradition of norooz is to set up the haftsin–a display of various items, each representing things you hope for in the new year. there are seven must-have items, all beginning with the farsi letter “sin” or “s”: seeb (apples), symbolizing beauty; sabzeh (wheat sprouts), symbolizing rebirth; serkeh (vinegar), symbolizing old age and patience; samanu (wheat germ pudding), symbolizing wealth; senjed (dried oleaster), symbolizing love;  seer (garlic), symbolizing health; and somagh (sumac), symbolizing the sunrise.

additionally, items like mirrors, candles, dyed eggs, flowers (hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, etc.), book of hafez poetry, goldfish, and many other items are placed on the haftsin, making it one of the coolest things i’ve ever seen.

since today is the 13th day of the new year 1395, what we call seezdah bedar, i figured it was appropriate to introduce norooz to those who are unfamiliar with it, and to those who know and celebrate this wonderful time of the year: saleh no mobarak!

stay tuned for recipes of all the sweets i baked for norooz this year!

xx.