On Tuesday I received an email from Fiona, who lives in Cairo, asking why she hasn't received new posts lately. It thrilled me to know someone reads my posts and actually misses them. Thank you, Fiona.
This nudge made me realize that I owe you all an explanation. The past few months have been chock full of projects and big transitions.
Here is a list of what's been keeping me out of the kitchen - transitioning my fifteen year old daughter to high school, creating a website that encompasses my work in the past twelve years, (www.humairaghilzai.com) and revamping this blog so it's more intuitive and beautifully designed (www.afghancultureunveiled.com). Oh yeah, I've also been putting the final touches to my book, TWO WOMEN AND WARLORD, which will be going to a critique group in a few weeks.
As for you my dear readers, I hope you will benefit from the new look and feel of the blog - lots of fun photos, a Gluten Free and Vegetarian section, something many of you asked for. Let me know how you like the new design. Make comments in the comment section of this post.
Staying on the theme of newness, today's recipe is an Afghan delicacy, letee, traditionally served to new mothers. Letee is considered a warming food that promotes healing, better metabolism and increased supply of mother's milk.
In Afghanistan, the birth of a baby is a special occasion consisting of many celebrations such as: naming of the baby on the sixth day of his or her life, 40th day party when the mother and baby are finally allowed to leave the house, baby's first hair cut and steps. All wonderful opportunities to get together as a family.
When my daughters were born Jeja, my mom, was not only instrumental in helping Jim and I take care of the little bundles of demand, she also prepared three meals a day with simmering hot bowls of letee, as a nourishing snack. I still fondly remember those days, me as a nervous new mother and Jeja, a reassuring force - bonding over food and the addition of more girl power in our family.
New Mom's Walnut Soup
4 cups hot water
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cardamom
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup roasted, chopped walnuts or almonds
2 cups water, room temperature
In a small pot, add four cups of warm water, stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves. Keep warm on low heat.
Place a deep non-stick pot on medium heat, melt butter, add flour and stir constantly for around 8 minutes until the flour is golden brown.
Gently pour the syrup in the large pot while stirring steadily with a whisk. As you add the water, a surge of steam will rise from the pot, be careful not to burn your hand. Add the cardamom and cinnamon; stir constantly until soup thickens. Reduce heat to low, add walnuts, continue stirring. Simmer for another minute.
Add 2 cups of room temperature water stirring until all the lumps dissolve and the soup thickens, around 3-5 minutes. The soup should have the consistency of a crepe batter. Serve in a bowl, topped with chopped nuts and a side of pita bread or nan.