Gaz is one of those delicacies that in the old days was offered only to kings. Ordinary people did not have the right to enjoy its taste for many years. Therefore, this delicious food dates back 450 years ago. They say the first producer of Gaz was Mr. Mohammad Ali Shekarchian.
He was the one who brought this food to the preparation stage, in Isfahan. He found out that he can make one of the most pleasant flavors in the world, with some sugar, egg white, cardamom, rose water, and nuts. Even now, 90% of the Gaz production in the country returns to Isfahan.
Moreover, Gaz was one of the first exported products during the time of Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar. And today, Gaz is popular as Persian Nougat in American and European countries.
Where Does Gaz Come From?
Traditional Iranian Gaz(Isfahan souvenirs) is one of the oldest and most beautiful sweets, as said. The properties of Gaz are one of the reasons that turn this delicious traditional sweet from a mere snack into a useful ingredient. It is, of course, if you don’t overeat it.
But Let’s see where the name Gaz comes from. Gaz or Gez is the name of an old tree that extends its life due to its roots reaching the surface water of the earth.
In some tropical regions, it has lived for more than thousands of years. The height of the Gaz tree is usually 10 to 15 meters. This tree belongs to the Tamarix family and grows in various parts of the world, including Iran. It is a beautiful tree with narrow, pointed, and a lot of leaves.
Gaz is derived from “Gaz Angabin” which means Angabin sap. Angabin, which grows in the mountains of Zagros in Isfahan, is a type of wild mountain Gaz tree. They also call it Gaz-e Mana.
On these trees some special insect lives that live only for one year. And surprisingly the whole year passes on the same tree. These insects secrete some special materials, something like sap. This sap is what they call Gaz Angabin.
Insects produce this sap by feeding on the tree and then releasing a thick, sweet-tasting milky fluid. It sticks to the branches of the tree. And then, when it is exposed to air, it dries to a solid state.
That is why Gaz Angabin is harvested from late summer to early fall. All this to come to the conclusion that Gaz Angabin is one of the main ingredients of Traditional Iranian Gaz. Moreover, it has lots of medicinal benefits that we will discuss later on.
Different Types of Gaz
According to the ingredients that are added to Gaz, Gaz can have a delicate taste of rosewater or it can have a good but spicy taste. Also, Gaz can have different colors, it can be white or yellow because of saffron added to it.
Regardless of what is added to Gaz, two things do not change in any case: the first is its unusual brittle and chewy quality, and the second is its sweet taste, which is the result of the high fructose content.
But Mainly, there are two well-known forms of Gaz; simple and floury. The simple ones are mainly bite-sized. And the floury ones, sometimes have even bigger sizes.
Both of these kinds are combined with edible nuts such as pistachios and almonds. Both cases are highly popular so they are the mainstays of tables on important Iranian occasions; Ceremonies such as Yalda Night, Nowruz Eid, etc.
The one important note to consider is the percentage of the nuts. The higher the percentage, the more delicious they taste.
What is Gaz with Pistachio?
As said before, nuts play a very important role in the taste of Gaz. Aside from the percentage that we talked about, Gaz with Pistachio only has pistachios in it. And the same is true about the Gaz with almonds. However, there is another kind of Gaz, mixing these two nuts which make Gaz with pistachio and almond. And we think you should not miss trying any of these kinds. Anyway, Gaz with pistachio nuts is more popular.
How do You Cook Gaz?
The preparation of Gaz, in its traditional way, is a time-consuming task and requires 9 hours at the minimum. But at the same time, it has a good shelf life and you can use this food for about 4 months without any preservatives.
In addition to being time-consuming, preparing Gaz(Cuisines in Esfahan)is also a difficult task. One small mistake could result in all of those 9 hours of preparation time going to waste.
For example, one of the steps involves getting the consistency of the syrup. If this syrup does not have a good density, Gaz will become loose and sticky, and if it is too thick, Gaz will become dry and hard.
Homemade Iranian Gaz Recipe
Necessary Materials for Iranian Gaz
Liquid glucose 300 grams
Sugar 250 grams
5 egg whites
Rose water 1 tablespoon
Pistachio nuts 150 grams
1 cup of water
Step 1: Beat the egg whites till they are firm enough not to fall out of the bowl in case you turn it over.
Step 2: Put sugar and a cup of water in a pot and put them on low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely in the water and the color of the syrup changes.
Step3: Add the liquid glucose. If the ingredients in the pot rise after adding it, you should stir the mixture with a spoon (preferably wooden). Keep stirring until the mixture becomes thick and elastic. Make sure that the heat under the pot is gentle during all this time.
Step 4: Pour two spoons of your syrup in a bowl of ice and water. If the syrup in ice water is fragile; It is time to remove the pot from the heat, but you must continue stirring.
Step5: Add two spoons of the syrup plus the rosewater to the beaten egg whites and stir.
Step6: Add the beaten egg whites to the syrup and stir the mixture again until it is completely smooth. Continue stirring for about ten minutes until the ingredients are well combined.
Step7: Put the pot back on low heat. Continue to mix with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens. Then add pistachio nuts. To make sure if the Gaz material is ready or not, remove the pot from the heat and wait for it to cool down a bit. Then take some of the liquid and test that it does not stick to your hand. If it is still sticky, you need to continue stirring and heating.
Step8: When the Gaz liquid cools down a bit, take some of the mixture and shape it with your hands. Sprinkle some flour on them and place it in a serving dish. Your homemade Iranian Gaz is ready.
Benefits of Gaz
It can be said that Gaz is the only sweet that does not include starch, oil, preservatives, and unnatural substances such as dyes and flavorings. And if it is prepared in the right way, it can even have healing properties.
By the right way of preparation, we mean using the same traditional ingredients, especially Gaz Angabin. Gaz with the raw material of Angbin has several times more nutritional value than the Gaz with sugar. Anyway, Iranian Gaz is good as a fever reducer, body itch reliever, etc. or if they contain milk powder and Taranjabin, they are identified as a tonic for the stomach, liver, and kidneys.
Benefits of Gaz Angabin
One of the most well-known benefits of Gaz Angabin is the treatment of infertility. This substance helps the body’s digestive system, as well. It has a great effect on people who suffer from constipation and hemorrhoids.
It’s a completely traditional way to treat themselves without taking any medicine. Usually, mankind, due to their busy lives, live stressfully and carry lots of fatigue.
Gaz Angabin relaxes you and removes the fatigue and pressure of a working day. It is also highly effective in strengthening memory and the mind.
Is Gaz Gluten Free?
As said Gaz is the only sweet that does not include starch, oil, preservatives, and unnatural substances such as dyes and flavorings. Moreover, it is totally gluten-free. Not only that but it has lots of benefits that your body can profit from.
Although we discussed the benefits of Gaz, let me remind you again that it is great for your immune system, relaxing the mind, Anemia, fertility, pregnant women, and so on.
Is Gaz for Isfahan Only?
As you might have heard Isfahan’s most popular souvenir is Gaz among many other precious stuff you can take home with you as souvenirs. However, today, in addition to Isfahan; Chaharmahal Bakhtiari, Hamadan, Kerman, and Yazd have also started producing Gaz and each has a separate history in this field. For example, in Kerman, three brothers entered the market for this product in1902. It was when Isfahan Gaz faced a great decline in quality. So they upgraded Kerman Gaz in terms of quality to the golden days of Isfahan Gaz.
Hamedan is another place that claims the right to sign in the field of Gaz production. A place that has taken initiative in the production of Gaz and has been combining the same raw materials of Gaz with honey for about 130 years. They offered to serve it in the form of wrapping it around a finger.
To find out more about Isfahan souvenirs such as Ghalamzani, MinaKari, Ghalamkari, Tile work, and carpets, please check this link, ISFAHAN SOUVENIRS.
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