I cried. I cried for my mom and her future days. I cried for my sister, who was not there. I cried for my brother who had lost his role model. And, selfishly, I cried for myself and the times I will never again share with him, my father, my Baba.
Bed and wheelchair ridden for the last month of his life, he decided that he had had enough, and on a deceivingly sunny July afternoon, after a three-year battle with stage four-kidney cancer, caught excessively late by his doctors, he left us to go where we all will travel to one day.
The sound of his absence is deafening.
This year, it will be the third anniversary of his passing, but everyday I remember him, not just memories of his illness. He was a tall and statuesque man with broad shoulders and a head of voluminous, inflexible, and salt and pepper flecked hair. Hair so concentrated and dense, that even through the most rigorous medical treatments, it never diminished. Dark brown, Shirazi eyes were the feature of his full, rounded face. It’s ends forever wrinkled because of his inviting, never-ending smile. He had a habit of writing beautiful Persian calligraphy on the most random of things. Crinkly white envelopes containing the water bill, the lengthy looping receipt from that days grocery shopping, or the white bottom of the Kleenex box on the dinner table meant to come to your aid when your olivieh salad oozed out of the over-stuffed sandwich bun. Worthless items suddenly turned priceless.
|Calligraphy: I cut this out of a random sheet of paper he had scribbled on and framed it so that I might always have a piece of his talented artistic strokes with me|
I still cannot write a sentence about him and not shed some silent tears. I miss him with the same amount of all encompassing ache that I felt on the day he passed away. And so, on the most random of days I decide to make something to remember him by. Persian Halva. A soft, buttery, aromatic dessert served to comfort ones ailing heart.
|Persian Halva rolled into balls and dusted with pistachio powder|
|Traditional plating style|
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground saffron
½ cup rose water
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup butter
½ cup oil
Boil the water and sugar together.
Take off heat and add saffron, rose water, and cardamom. Set aside.
On medium heat, heat the butter and oil in a non-stick pot.
Add the flour and stir consistently for about 30 minutes or until brown. This step takes away the raw taste in the flour and is essential in the overall flavor of your Halva.
Remove from heat.
Gradually add the sugar water mixture into the hot flour and stir very quickly for about 3-4 minutes. It will bubble vehemently at first but will slowly turn into a paste.
Pour contents into a dish and decorate as you wish.
Traditionally it is simply decorated with simple shapes using a spoon and sprinkled with shards of pistachio or almonds.
For the truffle like nut-coated Halva, I allowed it to cool at room temperature, and then refrigerated it for an hour. Next I took spoonfuls of Halva and rolled them between my hands and ran them through powdered pistachios and almonds.