Traditional Yalda Night Foods +recipes
We've put together some of our favorite recipes for traditional Yaldā foods. All of these recipes for Yalda night are detailed and approachable no matter your cooking experience level. Even if you're not planning to make an entire meal, there are some great tips for prepping fruits and ajil (a Persian trail mix) that make easy snacks to have on Yaldā night. Start a grocery list and get a tablecloth ready. All you need is food and good company to celebrate Yaldā!
This traditional tangy stew is made with loads of ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses and can be sweetened to taste. The Caspian Chef's recipe details ingredients and gives step by step instructions. Tips: Use boneless chicken cut into chunks if serving children, Costco has great walnuts and don't be shy with the pomegranate molasses.
This hearty soup filled with herbs and beans is the ultimate comfort food. You cannot make too much of this because it disappears quickly! The Delicious Crescent shares a straightforward Āsh-e reshteh recipe here with substitutions as well. Tips: Use canned beans if you are crunched for time. Substitute spaghetti pasta if you can't get your hands on traditional reshteh and although store-bought fried onions are not anything like fresh ones, they are better than none!
Yalda tables are usually covered with fruits and no others are more strongly associated with welcoming winter than watermelon and pomegranates. The rich red hues symbolize life and the color of the rising sun. Watermelon is believed to increase immunity for the winter ahead and is sometimes carved decoratively to display.
There are endless ways to prepare ājil and only one way to enjoy it - while visiting with family and friends. Watch a step by step on our classic mix (pictured here) made with a variety of nuts, Shirazi figs and dried mulberries. Check your local Persian market or order online for the figs and mulberries because they are arguably the best part!
Tip: Making ājil is a great way to include children in Yaldā preparations as there is really not a wrong way to make it and if the children mix it, they will likely enjoy what's in it. Get creative with whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruits you have on hand.
A Persian gathering is not complete without a pot of tea! Keep a pot of hot chai going all night on Yalda - the longest night of the year. You'll want it while you talk the night away with friends and family. Traditional Iranian tea is black and is served with sugar cubes or nabat (candied saffron sticks) for those who like it sweetened. Read here for tips on brewing Persian chai which is brewed strong and then diluted with water to taste.
This next one will melt in your mouth alongside a cup of hot chai. Here Ahu Eats shares a perfected recipe for Sohan-e Qom - a buttery saffron brittle topped with nuts. Broken into pieces as it is shared, this well loved dessert will disappear in no time!