Cardamom Chickpea Cookies for a Happy Persian New Year!

There is no more stunning emblem of spring than the tulips of Afghanistan.  Here is my dear friend, Hassina, with a bouquet from the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul.

It’s the Spring Equinox!  It’s also Finals Week of the winter term for me!  It’s also time for the wonderful Persian New Year Celebration of Nowruz … I learned about this lovely festive time, when I was living in Afghanistan, and have incorporated at least a nod to it into my holiday pantheon ever since.  Nowruz, which means “New Day”,  has ancient roots in Zoroastrianism and is celebrated in various parts of Central Asia and even further afield.  Preceding the holiday is a thorough spring cleaning of the house — unfortunately that’s not happening here!  Nowruz has wonderful traditional foods associated with it, and a symbolic table spread called the Haft Seen.  Beginning at the moment of the Vernal Equinox and continuing through twelve days of visiting and entertaining, it shares with Easter the potent renewal imagery of colored eggs.  I’d love to delve further into this, but it will have to wait til next year because my Chinese herbal formulas final exam is calling loudly for me to study …

I love the way humans translate the world around them into creative expression.  Spring tulips rendered in thread … through reinterpreting nature’s symbols, Nature has flowed through us since time began and people painted on cave walls.  Art was not for artists only; it was for everyone.  People made things with their hands.  I think often about what we will become when hands connect only to phones and keyboards.  How will Nature flow through us?

A friend’s mother told me about a Nowruz custom of putting sweets outside the night before the holiday commences.  The first person awake brings the sweets into the home, symbolizing kindness and good fortune in the new year.  Such a beautiful gesture … these cookies would be a simple way to bring it into your home every year — assuming some lucky little squirrel or mouse doesn’t get to the sweets first.  I squeezed in time at 5 o’clock this morning to bake before getting out my flashcards.  Nothing like watching it gradually get light out with cookies in the oven.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don’t go back to sleep — Rumi, as quoted by Brandt Stickley LAc. in Chinese Pathology lecture this week.

Nan-e Nokhodshi — Chickpea Cookies … with Cardamom & Rosewater:

  • 2 1/4 cups chickpea flour (I usually use Bob’s Red Mill brand.)
  • 1 cup butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar (Coconut sugar would also work in these if you want a cookie with a lower glycemic index.)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk (Optional –this is not entirely traditional but makes the dough much easier to work with if you are going to roll it out and cut shapes; you can leave out if you want vegan cookies.)
  • Pistachios or slivered almonds for garnish
It’s easy to flatten dough into a dish and cut out small, thick cookies.  No rolling required.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar with rosewater and salt.  Add the flour and cardamom, and mix til a soft dough is formed.  (Or — my favorite method — put everything in a food processor, and press the on button.)  Collect dough into a ball, and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap for an hour or two.  If the dough seems sticky, slowly add a bit more flour.

I can’t help but stop and smell every hyacinth I pass on the street … Every color has a slightly different fragrance as do the daffodils and magnolias.  I’m struck by the spicy undertones to the sweetness of these spring flowers.  My herbs lab at school is teaching me to linger longer over plant scents, waiting for the subtle layers to emerge …

When you are ready to make your cookies, roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut with small cookie cutters.  A clover shape is traditional.  Little flowers are nice too!  Tip:  you can also pack this dough into a 9×9 inch pan and cut with canape cutters.  These are deep and make tiny but thicker cookies.  This also takes less time than rolling, and you won’t need to mix as much extra flour into the dough.  If you’re really pressed for time, you can also roll the dough into walnut-size balls, and flatten slightly with your hand or press with a fork.  Decorate with pistachios or slivered almonds.

Cookies made from beans have a bit more protein — I might have a few for breakfast. Shhh …

These cookies have a delicate flavor and are delightful served with afternoon tea.  I especially like them with Earl Grey or green tea with a few crushed cardamom pods added.  Happy Nowruz … and once again, Happy Spring — It’s finally here.  It is — gasp — sunny in Portland 🙂

IMG_1475 (1)
Be melting snow … Wash yourself of yourself — Rumi via Coleman Barks

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Donald says:

    Wow one more New Year.


    1. Yes! I think we’re done for this year 🙂


  2. Yes! Nowruz mubarak, Jennifer.
    In peace and golden health,


    1. Thank you and likewise!


  3. Arooj says:

    Can you put some in an envelope and send to Boston? I am game for anything that goes well with Earl Grey!


    1. You will have to pay a visit here, and I’ll make some!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s