Happy Yalda to all my Iranian friends who celebrate the longest night of the year or winter solstice. Just like the last two years, myself and other talented Iranian food bloggers around the world, celebrate Yalda by posting recipes that are dear to us, sharing stories of a country that we love and often miss very much.
As most of you know, my husband, Bill & I recently traveled to Iran. We arrived in Tehran to attend my nephew's wedding, which I hope one day I write about that amazing experience, then we took the train from Tehran with my niece, Mahroo@noghlemey and her husband to Yazd.
The following two days after our arrival in Yazd was the most amazing experience of my life. I absolutely fell in love with the city, the architecture, the people, and not to mention the pastries.
Yazd, is a city with 5000 year old history & with well preserved old mud-brick buildings. Yazd is the home to the most amazing wind catchers, the most famous confectioners, and the home to Zoroastrian culture.
Zoroastrian was the religion of Iranians prior to Islam conquest, and to this day, many of our celebrations and ceremonies come from Zorostarian including our New Year or Norouz and the celebration of the longest night of the year or Yalda.
While in Yazd, we visited Zorostarian Fire Temple or as we say in Farsi Atashkedeh, picture below. It was an incredibly hot day, and besides few tourists like us, there was hardly anyone there, so we took our time photographing and learning about this amazing culture/religion. Even though, we celebrate Norouz and Mehregan, I've learned that there are six other celebrations that each last five days and they're called Gohanbar. It's to believe that god created the world in six stages, and these six celebrations are to honor those days.
We also visited Haj-Khalifeh Rahbar, the most famous and delicious confectionery in Iran. Thanks to Mahroo, we got a chance to meet the owner and got a private tour of the behind the scene of this amazing bakery. For an Iranian pastry chef, visiting Haj-khalifeh is like going to Mecca ;) Meeting the extraordinary and talented khalifehs , who have been making Qhotab for the last 50 years of their lives was the highlight of my trip.
One of the pastries that Haj-Khalifeh offers is Haj-Badoom. Haj in Farsi is a title given to a person who has traveled to Mecca and Badoom means almond, but what is the significant of these two names together, I have no idea. What I do know is these gluten-free, crunchy, and sweet cookies are so delicious that you can eat them like candy, trust me they're that good.
- You can buy almond meal from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's ,but personally I grind my own almonds and that's for two reason, first the store bought ones are expensive, second they're made from the whole almonds and not skinless almonds, so in case of making Haj-badoom they tend to change the color of the cookies and make it less attractive.
- It's important to use enough almond powdered to make a soft dough. I measured about 200g, but didn't use all of it, I had about a full table spoon left. The best is to turn the food processor on & add almond powdered slowly, as soon as the dough forms around the center blade, you should stop adding almonds. Once you take the dough out, if you feel it's too soft, you can add a tablespoon or so.
- It's normal that Haj-baddoms are cracked during bake
Yields: 20-30 cookies Bake time: 15-18 minutes
- 3 egg yolks
- 150g powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powdered
- 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of brewed saffron
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- Almond meal as needed to make a soft dough
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° F
- Cover two small baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a food processor, mix egg yolks with powdered sugar until pale in color and creamy
- Add saffron, cardamom, & baking soda & mix well
- Slowly add almond meal until you have a smooth dough that you can roll in the palm of your hand without sticking to your hand.
- Take a small piece of the dough, almost the size of hazelnuts, roll in the palm of your hand and place on the try leaving about an inch in between the cookies
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown at the bottom and when you crack one open they're fully cooked inside. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Haj-badoom has to be kept in an air tight container and away from humidity.
I hope you enjoy the recipe and have a wonderful Yalda night with your friends and families. I also invite you to visit the recipes of my flew Iranian bloggers. And don't forget to share this with your friends.
Until next week, love you.