Happy Afghan New Year 1392!*
In honor of Afghan New Year (Nowruz) on March 21, here is an excellent recipe for Haft Mewa هفت میوه (literal: Seven Fruits), a traditional Afghan New Year's dish.
Many Afghan families prepare Haft Mewa as part of Nowruz celebrations. It is made from 7 different dried fruits and nuts, served in their own syrup.
Of course, everyone claims that they or their family have the best recipe in the world for Haft Mewa. This is unlikely ever to be resolved. However, the following recipe is an excellent and simple one, courtesy of Humaira's "Afghan Culture Unveiled")
Haft Mewa هفت میوه
Ingredients (serves 6):
3/4 cup walnuts
½ cup pistachios
½ cup golden raisins
1 cup red raisins
½ cup dried bing cherries (not sour cherries)
1 cup dried apricots (look for sweet ones)
½ cup slivered almonds
½ tsp. rosewater (optional)
5 cups cold filtered water
Large (at least 5 pints) lidded container with a wide mouth
Begin by blanching the walnuts and pistachios. To do this, bring 3 cups of water to a boil, remove from heat, add walnuts and pistachios, cover and let sit for 20 minutes. In the meantime, in a large bowl add both kinds of raisins, cherries and apricots. Rinse these three times in cold water to remove any residue.
When the walnuts and pistachios are ready, pour the hot water out and add cold or iced water to halt the cooking process. Then peel any skin off the nuts using the best method you can come up with. Pistachios are easy, but walnuts can take patience. Try to make sure all skin is removed from the pistachios and the walnuts, no exception. If you have a whole walnut, breaking it in half and then peeling it can make it easier. **Recruit as many family members as possible to help with this stage**
Add the dried fruit and nuts to the container, along with the rosewater and 5 cups of cold water. Stir well. The water should be at least 1 inch above the ingredients. Refrigerate for 2-4 days. The longer it sits, the sweeter it will get. Haft Mewa will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. A small trick provided by a friend is to keep the almonds separate from the dried fruits and add at the last minute to keep their color white.
Serve in a bowl with its juices. Tastes great by itself, on vanilla or mango ice cream, or with plain yogurt.
As the Afghan Proverb says: "Khoob be-push, khoob bukhor, zendagee ko-tah ast."
خوب بپوش، خوب بخور
زندگی کوتاه است
"Dress well, eat well, life is short." Enjoy the good things in life while you can.
Happy Nowruz 1392 (March 2013-March 2014)
* The official Afghan calendar is the Solar Hijri calendar. Year One of the calendar was the year of the Prophet Muhammad's migration to Medina in 622 CE.