Shabe Yaldā, an Iranian festival, celebrated on the ‘longest and darkest night’ of the year, falls on the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice, which corresponds to the night of December 20 or 21, each year. On Shabe Yaldā, friends and family gather together to celebrate until well after midnight, over good dishes, fruits, sweets and nuts. Yaldā is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kurdistan, and Uzbekistan.
This is one of several festivities on which Persian Food Bloggers from all over the world will collaborate and celebrate with our readers, to bring awareness to and highlight Persian cuisine and culture. At the end of this post is “Persian Food Bloggers – Shabeh Yalda 2014 Collaborative Post”. Please check their fabulous recipes, especially prepared for Yaldā Night!
For this collaboration, I am posting a loved Persian sweet that originated in the city of Qom. All kinds of sweet/confectionery brittles are called sohan, hence the name, sohan’e Qom (sohan of Qom).
Authentic Sohan’e Qom is humanly impossible to make at home. Using mechanical-equipment, a big pot with stirring mechanism, best quality wheat sprout flour mixed with water is cooked at 140ºC for over 1 hour, while continuously stirred, until it changes into brown color and some of the water is evaporated. To lighten its color, while it is still being stirred, flour, sugar, butter is added and then, saffron for appealing color. Rosewater and cardamom are added for flavor and aroma. I also noted that eggs are used. I do not know at this time, if whole-eggs or only egg-yolks are used, and what the ration is. That is homework for me to research. The mix is stirred for hours, until the mix turns into dough. It is formed after that, with all kinds of utensils which not all of us (none of us) have at home. An Iranian lady came up with using honey and corn syrup (which are not used in authentic recipes) to condense the process time and ease of making at home. Brilliant! [See step-by-step photos of factory production of sohan in Qom → here & here]
This recipe is as close to Qom/factory made as it gets, and if I may say so myself, it is a darn good one!
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Sohan'e Qom • سوهان قم • Qom Saffron Brittle
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 1 Tbsp + ½ tsp unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp whole wheat flour (best if wheat sprout flour)
• 100 gr = ½ cup granulated sugar
• 3 Tbsp + 2 tsp water
• 1 tsp rosewater
• 70 gr = 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
• 1½ Tbsp honey
• 1½ Tbsp clear corn syrup
• ¼ tsp ground/powdered cardamom
• 1/8 tsp ground/powdered saffron (dry, not dissolved)
• 50 gr shelled, raw or roasted, unsalted pistachio-nuts
◊ It may sound funny, but this is a well-engineered recipe. Do not substitute, omit, decrease or increase any of the ingredients. Replacing rosewater with same amount of water works, although rosewater substantially adds to the aroma and delectability of the sohan.
◊ Put the pistachio-nuts in a sandwich bag and using an even, cylindrical bottle, crush the nuts into large bits, as seen in the photo. This cylindrical bottle is needed again later.
◊ Line with parchment-paper, a baking sheet at least 27cm x 41cm (10½”x16″) in size.
◊ Have all your ingredients measured and placed in the order of use. Flours may be mixed together. Water and rosewater may be mixed together. Honey and corn syrup may be mixed together.
◊ Note: From this point on, no matter what ingredient is added, do not stop vigorously stirring.
◊ Put a medium-sized, non-stick saucepan on the stove and heat on medium-high until hot. To take away raw smell/taste from the flours, add flour mix and stir briefly with a long-handled-wooden-spoon (to keep your hands away from heat ). Leave the heat on, but remove the saucepan from heat, add sugar and mix well.
◊ Still off the heat, add rosewater/water, stir to mix well. Place the saucepan back on the heat, continuously stirring, bring to a boil/until foams-up. Add butter and stir vigorously until completely melted. Briefly remove from the heat, add honey/corn syrup mix, cardamom, stir a little and add saffron. Put back on the heat, stir vigorously for about 6 minutes. (The mix starts getting thicker-and-thicker and starts separating form the pot like a flowing dough.) Once it is completely separated and quite thick, it is done.
◊ Pour the mix onto the lined baking sheet in one big piece or five small, round ones (with even amount of space in-between). Wait a few seconds for it/them to spread a little. Generously sprinkle on crushed pistachios and using the cylindrical bottle (not a pin, because it is easier to wash if any pieces stick to it), roll from center to the edges, to flatten the pistachios together with the brittle into one big about 20cm/8″ diameter or five small 11cm/4½ ” rounds.
◊ Set aside for 30 minutes or until cooled and hardened. Break the big one into pieces or wrap small rounds as gifts. Store up to 1 week, in an airtight container, in single layers, separated by parchment-paper. The texture gets better the following days.
◊ To clean the hardened sugar pieces in the saucepan and on the wooden-spoon, add hot water to the saucepan and leaving the spoon in it, bring to a boil. Boil until all the hardened sugar dissolves for wash. If any pieces are on the sides of the saucepan, as it is hot, carefully wipe them with wet paper-towel.
Warning: Sohan is very addictive and dangerous to the waistline!
~ Noushe jan • نوش جان ~
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Persian Food Bloggers’ Yalda Recipe Round-up
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