Smutty Food: Happy Nowruz
Nowruz, also known as Persian New Year, is on the first day of Spring, or March 20 for 2013. There are several traditional food items that are popular for New Year’s. They range from savory to sweet and, in my experience, they all take a long time to make.
Many of the savory items are stew or rice based. As you can imagine, a stew usually simmers most of the day, and you would think a rice dish could be quick but not when it’s made Persian style! The sweets are similar as well. Chick pea flour cookies, which I have made a couple of times in the last few months, are a very traditional New Year’s treat. They taste great, but I have yet to make these on my own and have them turn out well. My last experience involved three of my husband’s family members demonstrating how they should be made. I tried to write a recipe but soon found out that recipes are merely guidelines. You need to “feel the dough”, as my husband’s aunt said to me on numerous times during the day. Yes, they did take most of the day to make and, unless you have a ton of time, I would recommend finding a Persian bakery instead. Or, if you have a Persian friend, maybe hit them up for some New Year’s sweets or perhaps even an invitation to their family dinner (Persians love entertaining guests). In my quest to find an easy Persian sweet to make for New Year’s I finally found one that is quick and easy: raisin cookies or, in my modified method, currant cookies.
I know, not everyone is into currants, but even if you are lukewarm on them this is a great recipe: butter, sugar and eggs…what’s not to like? These treats are small and I thought raisins would overwhelm the cookie, so I substituted with currants. I also added some saffron to the recipe which gives the cookies a slightly different flavour. This is optional; I’ve tried them with and without saffron and they’re delicious either way.
The recipe makes about 90 cookies if you follow the directions and use only a teaspoon of dough for each cookie, which I recommend. You can easily cut in half if you want to make a smaller amount. Enjoy the start of spring!
Currant Cookies (aka. Nan-e keshmeshy)
1 c unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 3/4 cup of sugar
1 and 1/2 cup of currants
2 and 1/3 cup of all purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water (if desired)
Preheat oven to 350o F. Spread out parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
In a mixing bowl, combine melted butter, vanilla, and sugar; then add the eggs one at a time. Mix well until creamy. Add currants and mix well. Fold in flour until a soft dough forms.
Drop teaspoonfuls of batter on the parchment paper, leaving about 5cm between each spoonful. They will spread.
Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly golden on the edges.
Remove cookies from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Arrange the cookies on a plate in the shape of a pyramid. Or just eat them!
Adapted from “New Food of Life” by Najmieh Batmanglij.