Haft Mewa Afghani Chocolate Tart
Hope For Afghanistan.
The brokenness of our world seems to be more apparent than ever over the past few years. We are now in our second year of a global pandemic. There have been an increase in natural disasters fires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Social injustice and political strife have polarized many nations from within and torn apart families and communities. However, what has troubled me the most over the past few years is what’s currently happening to the people of Afghanistan. After 20 years of War along with countless lives lost and trillions of dollars of investment, the Taliban have now taken over the country in the wake of the Western Forces withdrawal.
Seeing the desperation of the Afghan people fleeing from the Taliban has been deeply troubling for anyone who believes in justice, equality and basic human rights. The Taliban are ruthless in their treatment towards woman, ethnic minorities and anyone who won’t fulfill their specific religious requirements.
Thousands of Afghani people are desperate to escape the ruthless grip of the Taliban. The Afghani’s hope for a free, democratic society has been smashed on the rocks of the hopelessness of religious tyranny. As this terrible news unfolded in front of my eyes. I wanted to create a dish that communicated hope for the people of Afghanistan.
After a quick online search, I discovered that during the former reign of the Taliban, any traditional celebrations that were not considered Islamic were banned. This included the Afghani’s traditional New Years celebration called Nowroz.
Nowroz – which literally means new day – is celebrated in March on the day of the Spring Equinox as it’s about the hope that comes with the new blossoms of spring. This traditional holiday is filled with symbolism including 2 dishes that are only served on this holiday.
Haft Mewa, is a traditional Afghan dessert dish made of seven fruits and nuts that represent the seven elements of life: fire, earth, air, water, plants, animals and humans.
The ingredients are pistachios, walnuts, red raisins, yellow raisins, dried apricots, almonds, and dried cherries. The fruit and nuts are soaked in water for a few days with a little rose water, ground cardamon and vanilla. The water turns into a sweet fragrant syrup. Haft Mewa is shared with family and friends as way to bring hope and good fortune for the new year.
Another dish that is only served on Nowroz are called Kulche Birinjee. They are delicious Afghan Butter Cookies made with rice flour, cardamom and pistachios. They also have a splash of rose water and vanilla making them incredibly unique, crumbly and very tasty.
I combined these two authentic Afghan New years dishes into a Chocolate tart, using the cookie as the crust for the tart, and the Haft Mewa fruit, nuts and syrup to make a dark Chocolate Ganache.
Red Tulips are the national flower of Afghanistan. Many streets in Afghanistan are lined with a labyrinth of tall concrete blast walls as a form of protection against Taliban suicide bombers and various other acts of war. Local artists called "Art Lords” have been sharing their voice of hope by painting murals on these blast walls.
Afghan youth paint red tulips on blast walls and concrete barriers around Kabul in a photograph posted to the ArtLords Facebook page on August 9. [ArtLords/Facebook] (click on image above to go to original post.)
The latest mural project Art Lords have undertaken is to paint one red tulip for each and every Afghan civilian killed in the war -- some 35,000 since 2001. Each red tulip is a story of someone who died in their fight for freedom, painted at the scene of the explosion or attack that claimed an innocent life.
This Tart is my prayer for the people of Afghanistan. A Prayer inspired by hope of a new year for when they can freely celebrate Nowroz and enjoy Haft Mewa again.
I have included the recipes for the Haft Mewa and Kulchi Birinjee Cookies below.
Afgani Nowroz Cookies
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 cups white rice flour
1/2 tsp. freshly and finely ground cardamom
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon Rose Water
1/4 cup crushed rose petals (optional) The rose petals add a beautiful color to the dough and connect to the subtle flavour from the rose water.
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the softened butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg whites, vanilla, and ground cardamon, mix on medium low speed until smooth. Gradually add the rice flour, and pistachios until well blended. Scrape with a spatula to be sure all the ingredients are mixed well.
These cookies are very delicate when they are hot and can break very easily. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone matt. Using parchment or a baking matt will help you remove the cookies and prevent cracking until they are fully cooled.
Take a pinch or spoonful of dough and gently flatten it with your hand onto the lined cookie sheet.
Add a pinch of chopped pistachios, and a pinch of crushed rose petals (optional) to the centre of each cookie. Gently press the pistachio’s into the cookie dough.
Bake at 350F for 12 - 14 min.
Gently remove the cookies and let fully cool.
Haft Mewa (Afghani Seven Fruit Soup)
1 cup red raisins
1 cup dried Apricots - chopped into quarters
1/2 cup blanched walnuts
½ cup blanched unsalted pistachios
½ cup yellow raisins
½ cup dried cherries (not sour cherries)
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp. rosewater
1/2 teaspoon finely ground cardamom
5 cups cold filtered water
1. Bring about 3 cups of water to boil. Blanch the walnuts and pistachios by putting them separately into a heat proof bowl, cover and let it sit for 20 minutes.
2. In a large bowl add mix the raisins, cherries and apricots. Then Rinse three times in cold water to remove any residue.
3. After about 20 min, strain the hot