Persian Sweets

Kerman Bazaar Teahouse
November 14, 2007

I haven't left for the Gulf yet. Exploring Kerman felt worth an extra day.

The bazaar here has one of the nicest teahouses I've been to. Beneath the main lane of shops, what were once underground bathhouses are now an ambient area to sit around, sip tea, and listen to performances of traditional Persian music.

I think I arrived just a couple months too late to enjoy the full charm of the teahouse under the Kerman bazaar. As with certain other cities I've been to around Iran (i.e. Isfahan) the hookahs have gone out. People in Kerman have told me it was only two months ago that--by governmental decree--the teahouses stopped offering them.

On my way out of the bazaar this afternoon I stopped by a shop selling traditional Persian sweets, just a few steps south of the teahouse. I came away with two different kinds of sweet, neither of which I had heard of before: qolmach ("cool much") and haj badam.

Qolmach & Haj Badam
When I saw qolmach in the shop display case, I took it to be some variety of baklava. Qolmach is not bad, but not what I expected. The pastry dough is soft, not dry and flaky. The filling has no nuts, I think it's made of pure date puree. Qolmach is sweet, there might also be pistachio or cardamom cut in somewhere. However, even if I hadn't expected baklava I don't think I would have been highly impressed by qolmach.

I give higher marks to the haj badam. It's a light, sweet, crunchy nugget. Its one flavor is subtle, I had to eat a couple dozen before I figured out what it was: ginger. It reminds me of some line of dry breakfast cereal from the west, though not as sugary. I believe haj badam is found only in this area of Iran.