Tag Archives: Persian food

Iranian Baklava

Main description:

AB: “Are there any Iranian foods which have a special meaning to you?”

DB: “No. Haha, jk. Um, special meaning… probably baklava.”

AB: “Awesome! What can you tell me about Iranian Baklava?”

DB: “I’ll tell you how mamanjoun taught me to make it. First, you roll out some phyllo dough on the counter. The filling is pretty simple, you just mix walnuts, sugar, and I also add nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice if I’m feeling spicy. But anyway, you blend your nuts and sugar together, and you should get this really crunchy and sweet kinda filling. Now comes the hard part. You spoon a row of your filling onto a sheet of phyllo and you carefully roll it up. Phyllo is super thin, obviously, so I know mamanjoun dabs water on her fingers to help it stick to them, which can make it easier to work with. That part literally takes forever. But anyways, once you have all your phyllo walnut wraps, you cut them up into sections so you have nice little baklava rolls that fit in your hand. You bake them at, um, I think 350, but mamanjoun just says to watch them until they brown. Oh, and you top with a syrup. You make that just by boiling lemon juice, water, and sugar, and then you drizzle that over the baklava once it’s baked. I’ve made them once with mamanjoun and once by myself. They turned out really well the first time and… okay the second time. But my friends still really liked them.”

AB: “When would you say makes Iranian Baklava special?”

DB: “Listen, I’m not a baklava expert. It’s a hell of a lot better than the baklava they have at most restaurants, I’ll tell you that. Our baklava is crunchy when you bite into it, which I think makes it taste a lot better than baklava that’s just like… stuffed with sweet walnut powder or something. That stuff’s gross.”

AB: “When do you make baklava. Is it for any special occasion?”

DB: “Well, I guess mamanjoun makes it whenever there’s family visiting, really. I kinda think she just likes to show off, but also it’s everybody’s favorite food, so I get it. She’ll also make batches of baklava for us to take home sometimes because it’s so good. When I’ve made it, I made it because it was Thanksgiving and I wanted to bring a dessert while also showing off. It’s really a lot of work, so I don’t think anybody would be making it by themselves.”

Informant’s interpretation:

AB: “Why is baklava special to you and your family?”
DB: “Honestly, I’m just really proud I know how to make it. Like, I can’t cook any Iranian food for shit, but I can do baklava, lol. I feel like I worked really hard, and it’s nice to like…be able to share my family with my friends through, like, food.”

Personal interpretation:

Baklava is a common dish throughout Greece and much of the middle-east, so it isn’t  a uniquely Iranian dish. The informant, however, emphasizes a few techniques that make the dish unique, and he sees it as a part of his culture that he can easily share for others to appreciate.

Nowruz (Persian New Year) Celebration

Main Piece

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant, identified as SK, and myself, GK.

SK: One unique holiday that I celebrate is Nowruz, which is known as Persian New Year. This year it fell on March 20, but the date changes each year.

GK: Why is that?

SK: This is because the holiday falls on the first day of Spring Equinox. So it depends on when exactly the sun crosses the celestial equator.

GK: How do you usually celebrate this holiday?

SK: Um, there’s a lot of things we do. One of the more intriguing events we partake in is called Chaharshanbe Suri. This is a tradition where you jump over the fire, as it serves as a way to purify yourself from all of the sin you’ve partaken in. We also usually have a big feast where we eat Kashke Bademjan (Eggplant Dip), and chicken soltani. 

GK: How long have you been celebrating this for?

SK: It’s been 16 years now. 

Background: The informant, who comes from Persian heritage, knows of this holiday due to the fact he has been celebrating it for the majority of his life. His father, was originally born in Iran, migrated to the U.S. when he was a kid. And with this move, he brought the many traditions and customs along with him. Those traditions have thus been passed on to his son, who deeply enjoys the holiday as it brings his whole family together throughout the start of spring. 

Context: The informant and I discussed this holiday over Facetime. 

My Thoughts: It was very intruiging to hear about the Persian New Year and how different their traditions are vs. our New Year traditions here in the United States. I feel like ours is more of a celebration, while there’s is more of a reflection and cleansing. You could see this through the Chaharshanbe Suri. Hearing about these traditions of the informants makes me want to be more reflective while celebrating New Year’s and think of what I can improve on for the next year. In addition, it was really interesting to hear about how this holiday is connected with the earth cycle. I’ve always wondered why some holidays change dates each year, and that answered my question.