Authentic Persian Mishloach Manot (Purim Basket)


Photo: Jypsygen

— by Ronit Treatman

Purim is a foodie’s paradise!  The Book Of Esther (9:22) instructs us to feast in celebration of the Jews’ deliverance from Haman.  It also tells us to send gifts of food to one another, so everyone may rejoice.  According to the Halakha, “gifts of food” means at least two different foods that are ready to be consumed.  In my family, the tradition was to have a minimum of three items in the Purim basket.  We always baked Hamantaschen, and included nuts and fruits in our gifts.  This year you can take your friends on a magic carpet ride to exotic, faraway Persia by sending them Purim packages with authentic Persian treats.  

I found recipes for four traditional Persian sweets.  They are pareve and gluten-free.  Best of all, they are really easy to prepare.

Recipes after the jump.


Photo: Shirni Sara

Nan-e Nokhochi:  Persian Chickpea Cookies
Adapted from Nooschi

  • 3 1/2 cups of roasted chickpea flour (available at Kalustyan’s)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • Crushed unsalted pistachios
  1. Place the chickpea flour, cardamom, sugar, oil, and rose water in a mixer.  Blend well.  
  2. Place the dough in an 11 X 7 brownie pan.  Flatten the dough so it fits snugly in the pan.  
  3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour.  
  4. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Cut the dough with a linzer cookie cutter.
  6. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet.  
  7. Decorate with the crushed pistachios.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes until they turn a golden-brown color.

These cookies are very crumbly, not too sweet, and melt in your mouth.

Naan Berenji: Persian Rice Cookies
Adapted from the Iran Chamber Society

  • 1 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup rose water
  • Crushed pistachio
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the pistachio together.  Refrigerate for overnight.  
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  3. Roll out the dough.  Cut the dough with a round cookie cutter.  Garnish with the crushed pistachio.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.  

Naan Berenji are soft, moist, fragrant, and delicious.

Toot: Persian Marzipan
Adapted from Turmeric & Saffron

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons rose water
  • Slivered pistachios for garnish
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the granulated sugar and crushed pistachios.  Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.  Pick off small pieces of dough and roll them around a clean surface to shape them into the traditional shape: that of a mulberry.  
  2. Sprinkle some sugar on each confection.  
  3. Insert a sliver of pistachio at one end of each “berry” to be the stem.

Toot is rich, chewy, and intensely satisfying.  

Nan-E Gerdui: Persian Walnut Cookies
Adapted from New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies by Najmieh Batmanglij

  • 2 cups ground walnuts
  • 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Crushed pistachios for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. Grease a cookie sheet.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients except the crushed pistachios in a bowl.
  4. Scoop out the batter with a teaspoon, and drop little mounds of it onto the cookie sheet.  
  5. Sprinkle crushed pistachios on the cookies.  
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.

These cookies are sweet, nutty, crunchy, and delectable.

When you have finished concocting these exotic, delicious treats, it will be time for you to present them in a fashion that befits them.  I think it’s fun to imagine how they would have been served at Queen Esther’s party.  You can find an inexpensive silver-like tray at a thrift store, or a disposable metal tray.  Place each confection in an individual bakery tissue, and arrange it on the tray.   When your friends bite into these cookies, they will experience the sensual pleasures of rosewater, cardamom, and nuts.  Your magic carpet will transport them to Shushan, to Queen Esther’s table.

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