Tasty Tuesday

Free to Feed · Baghlava with Rosewater syrup

Hamed Allahyari & Julia Busuttil Nishimura of Free to Feed
Tuesday 23rd August 2016

Today we welcome back Hamed Allahyari of Free to Feed and Julia Busuttil Nishimura of OSTRO, who teach us how to make Iran’s queen of desserts – Baghlava. Traditionally served during New Year celebrations, baghlava is a layered filo pastry dessert stuffed with a nutty, syrupy filling. In Hamed’s version, he uses his favourite trio of nuts including cashews, walnuts and pistachios soaked in rosewater.

Hamed will soon be teaching a series of classes at Free to Feed featuring this recipe and other traditional Persian delights!

In Iran, Baghlava is said to be the queen of desserts, and it’s easy to see why – it’s sticky, buttery and scented with rosewater. Baghlava is traditionally served at Persian New Year, and are especially popular in the cities of Yazd and Qazvin, where they famously produce much of Iran’s baghlava. Hamed says that other nuts can be used, such as almonds, however we both agree that the combination of cashews, walnuts and pistachios is just right.

While Baghlava has many variations, the Persian variety is defined by the heady rosewater syrup which soaks into the nuts and buttery filo. Served with tea, it makes for the loveliest an most elegant afternoon tea. Don’t be tempted to skip the lime juice – while it’s job is to balance the sweetness, Hamed says it also ensures the sugar syrup doesn’t crystallise upon cooling.

Tasty Tuesday shoots are generously supported by The Establishment Studios.

Ingredients (Makes approx 20 pieces)

For the rosewater syrup

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 50ml water
  • 1tbsp rosewater
  • 1tbsp glucose syrup
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Juice of half a lime

For the filling

  • 100g each of raw unsalted pistachios, cashews and walnuts
  • 1tbsp ground cardamom
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 10 sheets of filo pastry
  • Clarified butter, melted
  • Crushed pistachios, to serve


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Crush the nuts in a mortar and pestle, or by placing them in a paper bag and giving them a good bash. You want them quite finely crushed, but not powdery. Some larger pieces are good for texture too. Transfer nuts to a bowl and combine with the ground cardamom and sugar.

Brush a 20x10cm rectangular tin with some of the clarified butter. Working with one sheet of filo at a time, brush with clarified butter and then fold in half from the shortest side. Arrange this folded sheet into the tin and brush again with butter, trimming the pastry if needed. Repeat with two more sheets, layering them into the tin.

Scatter over half of the nut mixture, then repeat the butter and layering process with three more sheets. Scatter over the remaining nut mixture and repeat the butter and layering process with the four remaining sheets.

Brush the final layer with butter and with a very sharp knife, cut the baghlava on the diagonal to create diamond shapes. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool briefly.

Meanwhile, for the rosewater syrup, combine the sugar, water and rosewater in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to ensure the sugar has dissolved.

Add the glucose syrup, cardamom and saffron and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until thick and glossy. Stir in the lime juice and pour over the warm baghlava.

Top the individual pieces with crushed pistachios and allow to cool completely before serving.

Baghlava with Rosewater syrup. Recipe by Hamed Allahyari and Julia Ostro for Free To Feed. Surface from Fibonacci Stone. Props – Small plates by Bridget Bodenham, Cutipol gold cutlery from Francalia. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins. Styling assistant – Natalie Turnbull.

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