Today we welcome back Hamed Allahyari of Free to Feed and Julia Busuttil Nishimura of OSTRO, who introduce us to one of Iran’s most famous sweets, Persian nougat, or Gaz as the locals call it. Hamed recalls times when he would travel to Isfahan, a city in central Iran, just to buy this sweet, sticky candy. If you were trying to impress someone you would always bring it back with you – the more pistachios, the better!
Hamed and Julia have added a contemporary twist to this old favourite with the inclusion of barberries. They recommend serving it with a pot of sour cherry tea. Hamed will soon be teaching a series of classes at Free to Feed featuring this recipe and other traditional Persian delights!
Persian nougat, also known as Gaz, is super sticky and famously originates from the city of Isfahan, where people flock from all over Iran to purchase the freshest Gaz. Hamed recalled times when he would travel to Isfahan, simply to buy the sweet sticky candy. The more pistachios, the more expensive and prized it would be. If you were trying to impress someone, you would come back from Isfahan with some Gaz, seriously loaded with pistachios.
While the most commonly found Gaz contains only pistachios, we’ve added barberries into the mixture to give a little hint of sourness. We’ve also made a batch with sour cherries, which are a little sweeter than the barberries, but work really well. Persian nougat is quite soft, so if it’s a warm day, keep it in the fridge to avoid it melting. The nougat isn’t too difficult to make, however, it’s so important to have everything ready as once the sugar syrup has reached temperature, you need to work fast.
Ingredients (Makes approx 20 x 20cm square)
- 200g raw unsalted pistachio kernels
- 80g barberries
- 360g caster sugar
- 110ml liquid glucose
- 210g honey
- 60g egg whites (approximately two)
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- Zest of 1 orange
- Two sheets of edible rice paper
- 100ml water
Line a 20cm deep square cake tin with one sheet of the edible rice paper, shiny side down. Alternatively, line the tray with baking paper. The mixture will be super sticky, so you want to do your best to prevent it sticking to the tin.
Preheat oven to the lowest temperature. Place the pistachios and barberries on a tray and keep warm in the oven until ready to use.
Place the sugar, liquid glucose, honey and 100ml water in a medium saucepan and over a medium flame heat to 135C on a candy thermometer. This should take around 10 minutes.
While the sugar is reaching 135C, place the egg whites in a very clean bowl of an electric mixer with a balloon whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup reaches approximately 130C, begin to whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Once the sugar syrup reaches 135C, with the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Increase the speed and beat until thick and glossy (approximately two minutes).
Working quickly, fold in the warm pistachios and barberries, the rosewater and orange zest. Spoon mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the surface, and top with the second piece of edible rice paper, shiny side up.
Allow to cool completely overnight or for at least 4 hours. Cut the Gaz into pieces using a very sharp knife and serve with sour cherry tea.