Mar 17, 2008

Candied walnuts, cucumbers, and other things!

Hello everyone, here I am again with another "show & tell" blogging story! I recently received a very colourful and interesting collection of sweet delicacies from Syria. My eyes were enchanted in front of the intriguing items- some that I was familiar with, and some that were completely new to me. The above photo includes all the items, with the details below (you can click on the picture in a seperate window too for a clearer view!) :

1. Pistachio nougat
2. Layers of marzipan, "amardeen" (which is dried apricot fruit paste), pistachio paste, crushed pistachios (I have to add that this one tastes very very good!)
3. Candied prickly pear
4. Marzipan with a pistachio filling
5. Same layers as in #2
6. Candied baby pear
7. Candied mini cucumber (!!)
8. Candied apricot stuffed with pistachios
9. Pistachio & "raha" (raha is a bit similar to loukoum)
10. Rose & "raha"
11. Candied orange
12. Candied walnut (!!)
13. Candied pumpkin (my personal fave)
14. Pistachio "raha"

FYI- numbers 1, 2, 4, 9 and 14 are very commonly offered at weddings or important events and can also be an accompanying sweet with a cup of Turkish coffee.

Amongst all the sweets, two caught my attention- the candied walnut(below)

And when open looks like this:

The first thought that came to my mind is how on earth does one candy a walnut? Did they keep the shell? And if yes, how can you bite into a rock-hard shell? And how did it become black??? All these questions with the answer being that apparently the way that this is made is that the walnuts are picked at a very very early stage of their "development" before they become too hard. Then they are soaked in a kind of calcium based water to make them even softer. That's also when their colour changes into this blackish colour you see above.Then they are candied in a special syrup for at least 24hours.I tasted it and it does taste good, very sugary with still a bit of a walnut-y crunch.

The second sweet that caught my attention was this rose covered "raha". I thought it's pink delicate exteriour looked beautiful, and with each bite there is a wonderful smell of roses too!

I love regular raw prickly pear, but when it's candied it just looks a tad bit cooler!

But in terms of taste my really favourite one is the candied pumpkin. My grandmother does a home-made version and I remember eating it straight out of the jar and being sent off to another planet because it is just terribly good with an incredible crunch! She (my grandma) also made a lot of candied eggplants- which as strange as it sounds- is one of the best things I've ever tried!


Ginger M. said...

Hi! I just discovered this blog through your comment on my blog! I've only read the first page of this blog but I can tell it's gonna be a tasty site... nice to meet you!


Evelin said...

I've got a jarful of walnuts in syrup from Georgia in my fridge. Oh-so-sweet, but they are really good on some ice cream!

linda said...

They are all so pretty and delicious! I love the rose & raha one, not that I ate one before but it looks so tempting.
Some of the items I've seen in Amman but now I must go to Syria again to get all of them ;)

Sylvia said...

I really love Syrian treats. My lifetime friend's mother was from Damask and she always bring those treat to us.

Cenk said...

Amazing photos.. and so many familiar tastes :) I first tasted candied walnuts at Çiya ( and I also couldn't believe my ears when the waiter told me that it was indeed candied walnuts. It is not the greatest dessert on earth but it sure tastes different!

Marianna said...

Thank you all for your comments!

Evelin- out of curiosity, are your walnuts with the shell or without? On ice cream it must be delicious!

Linda- Amman & Syria share many sweets, but if you can go to Syria to try some more local specialities that would be a treat :-)

Sylvia- I always thought Syrian sweet's reputation was very "low key". That is cool you are familiar with it!

Cenk- haha, ya it is not the greatest thing taste wise... but it sure is interesting and at least will guarantee a startling reaction!!