Monday, September 28, 2009

Sweets of Iran...

Looking for something sweet and delicious in Iran? Well, when it comes to the world of confectionery in Iran, you can be rest assured there is no shortage of choice and selection whatsoever. Whether you are looking for chocolates, hard candies, wafers, bonbons, cookies, crackers, biscuits, marshmallows and toffees, there are a wide range of them available in almost every confectionery and corner shops nearby.
However, talking about chocolates in particular, there are a couple of Iran’s leading confectionery groups with reputably established brand names that always come to my mind.
On top of my favorite shopping list for chocolates and snacks in Tehran is Shirin Asal. Established in 1990, the company has grown from a small factory to become the country’s leading confectionery group today. The shop offers an assortment of chocolates, biscuits, cakes, wafers, cookies, crackers, candies and even chewing gums.
Perhaps it can be described as the only fully integrated local confectionery group that produces and markets high-quality cocoa, chocolates and confectionery products albeit at a comparatively much lower price than many other local and imported brands.
Other well-known Iranian brands and of equally delightful taste include Baraka, Aidin, Farmand, Anata, Achachi and Chichak, to name a few.
Hence Iran’s confectionery products, mostly based in Tabriz in northern Iran, seem to be expanding in popularity not only locally but are also competing to become one of the main leading manufacturers in the region and gradually being welcomed by international quality oriented markets.
Iranian confectionery can be too sweet for some tastes, but if you have a sweet tooth and are looking for something peculiarly sweet as a memento and souvenir of your next visit to Iran, I suggest you could try some of the Iranian chocolates and candies to bring home…
my favorite stop for chocolates n snacks...Shariati St.
...cornerstone of the confectionery industry in Iran

...with more than 1000 products to cater for customer's needs
and habits

strong focus on quality and innovation

strong focus on new product development

well known in many countries of the world...

white chocolates...

Iran's kit kat...

and for a healthy diet...

Shirin Asal's cocoa bean...mainly from Ivory Coast

Excellent taste for the health conscious

Baraka...trademark for Rezvan Chocolate, another top producers

as the name implies, benediction or abundance...

Baraka chocolate-coated sticks

Baraka bonbons

Aidin...another favorite & well known brand among the locals

established in 1977, as a trademark for the company

hard candy...

and special cream toffee

Chichak???...a commercial brand name of Iran
Chocolate Co. (est 1978)

Chichak milk chocolate

wonder what it means? an Azeri (Turkish) word for flower bud...

Shirin Asal's crackers...

and delicious cakes...

a range of Shirin Asal's biscuits and wafers

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Exotic Fruits of Iran...

Fruits of all seasons
When it comes to fruit and vegetable, Iran is pretty much self-sufficient. Seasonal fruit is such a great pleasure in Iran. However there are also some imported variety mainly banana, mango and oranges, coming mostly from the neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Lebanon and Egypt and as far away as the Philippines, Ecuador and Chile. The sight of abundant variety of fruit hanging and weighing down in every fruit and vegetable corner shops and supermarkets is a sure way to put a smile on every fruit lover’s face.
In Iran, fruits are usually served almost at all kinds of ceremonies and occasions. Second to tea, seasonal fruits are another integral part of Iranian hospitality. They are usually consumed before the main courses.
Every province and town has its own specialty of fruit products. Damavand, a northeastern town just outside of Tehran, is famous for its sweet and crunchy red apple, hence produces about 20 per cent of the country’s apple. Karaj is popular for its peaches or holoo, Natanz for its pear, Saveh for its pomegranate, Mashhad for its melon or kharbozeh and the area around the Caspian is noted for its sweet lemon and oranges.
Another interesting fact is about eating cucumber in Iran. Unlike in our home kitchen in Brunei or probably elsewhere too in other places, cucumber is usually categorized as part of our vegetable menu. However in Iran, it is placed in the same basket as fruits and is being eaten as one.
Last week I managed to take a few snaps of just what typical Iranian’s fruits and vegetable shops have to offer. It is also one of our regular and favorite stops for our fruits and vegetable shopping. Most of the fruit are of seasonal varieties, mainly catering for end of summer and early autumn such as peaches, grapes, pomegranate, and melon and honey dew. Apples, banana and oranges are almost available throughout all seasons, while summer fruits such as plum, cherry, berries, strawberry and smaller kind of peaches are no longer seen on the shelves.
Another popular Iranian fruit which I always look forward to at the end of Autumn is the persimmon or “khormaloo” in Persian. At this time of the year we could see the trees are already bearing fruits, which should be ready for the picking around end of next month until December. Back home, in the old days, we used to call this fruit ‘kasamak’ and were usually in its dried form, imported mainly from China.
However, over the last couple of years, one could not help but feel the drastic and exorbitant rise in the prices of basic commodities including fruits and vegetables, in line with the escalating rate of inflation and the cost of living in Tehran in particular and the country in general.
Back in 2005 a kilogram of sweet lemon cost only Rials 2,500, today it costs around Rials 15,000 per kg. Best quality pear from Natanz was Rials 10,000 per kg, today it costs five times more at Rials 50,000 per kg. A kilogram of grapes back then was only Rials 5,500, now it costs around Rials 18,000 per kg. Oranges were Rials 7,000 per kg. while today they are Rials 15,000 to 17,000 per kg.
But for the love of fresh, nutritious and healthy consumption of food, there seems to be no other choice left particularly for those housewives and trailing spouses residing in the city, but to accept the harsh economic reality – paying more for the price of less…!!

Arghavan vegetable and fruit market, South Dibaji

spoiled for choice...

holoo (peach) from Tehran & Karaj

holoo anjiri (fig peach)...a summer fruit

best gulabi (pear) from about Rls 50,000 ($5.00) per kg

banana...mainly imported from Ecuador & the Philippines

anggur sabz/asghari.. also known as bidaneh sefid,
usually produced end of summer

Pakistani mango

Anggur ghermez

Anggur Shahroudi...crunchy, at Rls 19,000 per kg

shaleel..a kind of peach in white and green

sweet n juicy Rls 38,000 a kg.

sib (apple).. also known as sib faransi (france)

Anar (pomegranate)...mainly from Saveh, south of Tehran

crunchy red apple from Damavand

oranges...either from the Caspian region or imported
from the region such as Egypt and Lebanon

Talebi (honey dew)

kharbozeh (melon)...from Mashhad

Khiar (cucumber) of two types...bush & tree
at Rls 9,800 per kg.

limo shirin (sweet lemon) from the Caspian

my favorite...khormaloo (persimmon)...available end of autumn

at a vegetable stall..prompt and friendly service

watermelon from Shahriar, south of Tehran

fresh pistachio from Damghan, near Semnan

fruit business...always a brisk business