Ajil (or ajeel) is a Persian trail mix filled with a variety of dried fruits, roasted nuts and seeds. It is served all year long but especially during Norouz and the celebrations of Chaharshanbe Soori.
Hopefully, in your neck of the woods, you are beginning to feel a little warmth in the air. We sure do here in San Diego. After a few months of much needed rain and cold, cloudy days, our week has started with beautiful warm 75ºF days. Aaaaah… And we have four more days until Spring arrives.
I decided this year to talk about our family’s traditions, which includes Persian New Year, which falls on the Spring Equinox. And of course, all of the food that is associated with this beautiful holiday.
About chaharshanbe soori
Tonight is a special night. It marks chaharshanbe soori: The night before the last Wednesday of the year. This is a celebration where the light (the good) wins over the darkness (the bad). And to celebrate, you need fire!
I was only six years old when I left Iran, so I don’t remember much of the traditions back there. But, many Iranians who live here in the U.S. and other countries still keep the traditions going.
Here in San Diego, we get together with hundreds of others along the beach. Bonfires are made, kabob stands are selling their kabob sandwiches, ash reshteh (bean and noodle soup) and also balal (roasted corn-on-the-cob).
The bonfires are made for you to jump over them. You shout out: “Sorkhi to az man or zardie man az to!” (“Give me your beautiful red color and take back my sickly yellow pallor.”). All that is bad and evil from the previous year is taken by the fire, so you can start the new year cleansed and ready.
Ajil, our version of the trail mix, is passed around and shared. There is no real recipe for it, as it is made to the taste of the person preparing it. Many times you add whatever you might have on hand or what is available at your stores.
This tradition is also celebrated in private homes and private yards. In Iran, the fires are made right on the streets.
My family and I haven’t attended a chaharshanbe soori celebration in years. When the kids were babies, it was too late at night for them. Then extra curricular activities got in the way as they got older.
But here in San Dieog everyone will flock to to Mission Bay where the fun and fire can be found. Here’s a pic of our budding Professor who always wants to eat Persian corn-on-the cob (balal), which is roasted over the coals and then dunked in salt water.
Ingredients you need
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- Pistachios: Usually pistachios are left in the shell instead of shelled pistachios.
- Other nuts: toasted almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts
- Roasted chickpeas: This is another staple in Persian cuisine.
- Raisins: You can use regular black raisins but also green raisins and yellow raisins.
- Dried mulberries: Persian toot (mulberries) are sweet and moist, even when dried. They are a staple in ajil.
- Seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds – with the shell on.
Recipes tips and FAQs
No two bowls of ajeel is ever the same. Everyone makes their own version based on what they have on hand. You can mix in other dried fruits and nuts, as well, including:
- dried apricots
- dried figs
- dried sour cherries (albaloo)
- noghl: sugar covered almond slivers
- 2 cup pistachios
- ½ cup toasted almonds
- ¼ cup roasted salted chickpeas
- ¼ cup black raisins
- ¼ cup yellow raisins
- ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup dried mulberries
- Combine all of the ingredients and serve.
A great snack for children and adults. For the dried fruits, use any combination of figs, apricots, peaches, raisins, currants and mulberries. Nuts can included roasted hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Serving Size:¼ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Total Fat: 17.3gSaturated Fat: 1.7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 82mgCarbohydrates: 13.1gFiber: 3.4gSugar: 5.5gProtein: 6.6g
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