On the eve of the last Wednsday of the year, just before Naw Ruz, a special event dating back to Zoroastrian times takes place in Iran. The excitment builds up days before it and planning starts a few days ahead. Of course, food playes a big part in this event and most of the planning involves soaking diffrent types of legumes the night before, preparing herbs and picking wild herbs (infact, 40 different ones) for aash and collecting wood logs and hay for the bonfire. As the adults are busy preparing for the night, the young ones are planning whose houses they should visit for the best treats! At sunset, everyone gathers in the street to see piles of hay in a row waiting to be burnt. The young girls and boys stay put in a queue waiting to jump over the bonfire and some brave ones go through the flame and sing;
Zardi-ye man az to Sorkhi-ye to az man
The literal translation is, my sickly yellow paleness is yours, your fiery red colour is mine.
Once everyone had a chance to jump over the bonfire and had some fun, then everyone is off home to have some comfy aash to warm up. By this time outside gets dark and children get ready to go out in the dark to have some fun. Ghashogh-zany (قاشق زنی) involves the children covering themselves with chador (looking like a ghost) and holding a metal bowl in one hand and a spoon in the other hand. The children would then visit homes in groups whilst continuously hitting the bowl with the spoon. The sound of spoon hitting the bowl notifies the homeowner to open the door. The person who opens the door puts a treat in their bowls. The treat can be anything from fruits, Ajil (mixture of salted seeds and nuts), roasted chick peas, sweets or for a very unlucky ghashogh-zan a bucket full of water!
It is said that in old days families with young daughters would open their doors and give treats out if they were happy for their daughter to get married that year so, khastegary (matchmaking) would happen shortly after and the young couple's wedding would happen sometimes during spring or summer that year.
Now, here is a real treat which would satisfy your taste buds!
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup ( glucose)
2 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup corn syrup ( or glucose syrup)
1 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds or pistachios, toasted.
2 tablespoon butter or ghee melted
2 teaspoon rosewater or vanilla extract
- Heavily butter a pan, set aside
- Heavily butter a large bowl, set aside
To make the Meringue
- In a stand mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Boil sugar, corn syrup and water over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to boil ( if sugar crystals still present, cover and boil until sugar is dissolved). uncover and boil on low heat for 10 minutes, without stirring. The thermometer should read 230 F( It's good to use thermometer but not necessary for this size batch).
- While mixing carefully and slowly add hot liquid in a steady stream over egg whites. Beat the mixture for another 10 minutes, until mixture holds its shape and is lukewarm. Transfer to prepared bowl.
- in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and corn syrup. cook and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil( if sugar crystals present, cover and boil until sugar is dissolved). Uncover and use clean spoon to stir on medium heat for 10 minutes longer. The thermometer should read 275 F ( It's good to use thermometer but not necessary for this size batch).
- Pour the hot mixture over the Meringue ( Do Not Scrape Saucepan) and with a large wooden spoon stir until blended.
- Mix melted butter and rosewater
- Gradually add rosewater mixture and pistachio until blended.
- Transfer to prepared pan and stand for several hours before cutting in small pieces. Wrap in wax paper. Store in cool and dry place.