Iran: Nan-e Nokhodchi

The number seven has been sacred in Iran for thousands of years as it is said to represent the "Seven Eternal Laws" which embodied the teachings of Zarathushtra. Iranians prepare a table or sofreh on a rug with a variety of foods. Traditionally, these seven symbolic items are displayed on the ceremonial table set for the Persian New Year, each representing one of the seven angelic heralds of life: rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty.

On the same table many people place seven special sweets because, according to a three-thousand-year-old legend, King Jamshid discovered sugar on Nowruz (the word candy comes from the Persian word for sugar, qand).

These seven sweets are noghls (sugar-coated almonds); Persian baklava, a sweet, flaky pastry filled with chopped almonds and pistachios soaked in honey-flavored rose water; nan-e berenji (rice cookies) made of rice flour flavored with cardamom and garnished with poppy seeds; nan-e badami (almond cookies), made of almond flour flavored with cardamom and rose water; nan-e nokhodchi (chick-pea cookies), made of chick-pea flour flavored with cardamom and garnished with pistachios; sohan asali (honey almonds), cooked with honey and saffron and garnished with pistachios; and nan-e gerdui (walnut cookies), made of walnut flour flavored with cardamom and garnished with pistachio slivers.

Nan-e Nokhodchi

1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tsp. finely ground cardamom
1 tbs. rose water
4 1/2 cups fine, roasted chickpea flour, sifted 3 times
4 tbs. unsalted, slivered pistachios for garnish

Combine oil, sugar, cardamom and rose water in bowl, and mix for 2 minutes until white and creamy. Add chickpea flour all at once, and mix for 1 minute until dough is no longer sticky. Dust work surface with chickpea flour, knead dough 2 minutes by hand and flatten dough on surface until 6 inches square and 3/4-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap, place on plate and let rest for 1 hour in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Unwrap dough. Use cloverleaf cookie cutter, and cut out dough. Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving 1 inch between pieces to allow for spreading. Decorate each with a slivered pistachio. Place sheet on rack in center of oven.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cookie bottoms are light golden. Remove cookies from oven, and allow to cool.

Recipe courtesy of the Vegetarian Times.

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