Monday, November 29, 2010

Afghan Baklava [My Kitchen, My World-Afghanistan]

My globetrotting kitchen is off to Afghanistan!
When I first read that we were off to Afghanistan I was totally thrown. I know very little about Afghanistan and even less about it's cuisine. I started perusing sites with no luck of finding anything that caught my eye until I stumbled upon Afghan Cooking Unveiled and found a recipe for Afghan Baklava with Saffron Rosewater Syrup.

Baklava! On of my absolute favorites and absolutely on my to do list!

I've never made any other baklava, but from the little bit of research I did, it seems what makes Afghan baklava different is that it uses cardamon instead of cinnamon, pistachios instead of almonds, and infuses saffron and rosewater into the syrup.
 All baklava calls for butter. And, lots of it. Bring on the brush!
I brushed each layer with butter. I made five layers of buttered filo dough followed by a mixture of chopped almonds, cardamon, and sugar. Then, repeat, repeat, repeat.
As the baklava baked, I made the syrup. The lemon zest really added flavor to the syrup. I omitted the rosewater due to cost (expensive!) and time (never got around to making my own), but I imagine it would be an incredible addition.
After the baklava came out of the oven I poured the syrup over the baklava and sprinkled it with pistachios.

The baklava was delicious! My stepmom has already requested it be apart of my holiday goodie plate this year.
Afghan Baklava
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
2 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 tsp. ground cardamom
¾ cup butter, melted
1 lb. filo dough (20 sheets)
1 cup water
The zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1  pinch saffron threads (optional)
1 tbsp. rosewater (optional)
½ cup finely chopped pistachios

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl mix together the walnuts, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cardamom.

2. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides of a 16 x 12” jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) with melted butter. Lay one sheet of filo on the pan and brush lightly with butter.  Continue layering the filo and brushing with butter until you’ve laid down 5 sheets of filo. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture over the filo.  Repeat the 5 sheets of filo/butter process followed by walnuts two more times, finishing up the baklava with the last 5 sheets of filo/butter. Coat the top of the baklava with butter. In total you will have 4 filo layers sandwiching 3 walnut layers.

3. Cut baklava diagonally across the filo to create diamond-shaped pieces.   Use a sharp knife and cut with care so the baklava layers stay together.

4. Set the baklava in the oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  While the baklava is baking, make the syrup.  

5. Combine the remaining 2 cups of sugar, the water, lemon zest, lemon juice, saffron and rosewater in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let it boil gently for about 10 minutes until the syrup reduces a bit and thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Keep warm.

6. When the baklava is done, remove from the oven.  Drizzle the syrup evenly over the top.  Sprinkle  with the chopped pistachios.  Allow it to cool a bit before serving.


  1. That looks delicious! I did not get to this for Japan or Afghanistan so I am feeling very bad about that...this month I had intended to get it all done (at the last minute as usual) and then the flu hit and I just threw in the towel about everything...I am currently upright and able to move about the room which is big progress. Congrats for picking and making something so fun!

  2. I would have been happy to sample.

  3. This looks like a wonderful variation on the baklava that I know. I like the glaze without honey, pistachios are definitely better than walnuts and you can't go wrong with cardamom! Yum! :)

  4. Sungguh menggiurkan. Ini masakan yang lezat belum pernah aku temui di Indonesia, padahal banyak kota di Indonesia yang sudah ku datangi.

  5. I love Baklava.. can not just stop at one bite.. and I like the version you have made here..

    Glad to follow you , looking forward for more recipes to come.. :)


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