Friday, June 21, 2013

My Albaloo Summers

These summer days I really miss albaloo, sour cherries. Albaloo was my favorite fruit in Iran because it didn't exist in the U.S. It was also one of the fruit trees that all my relatives seemed to have growing in their backyards. When the weather cooled down in the afternoons, my cousins and I would go outside with a huge bowl and a salt shaker and pick them off the tree. I loved picking the albaloo that were in pairs because then I'd wear them on my ears like earrings. After picking, we'd immediately wash them, put a dash of salt on them (to balance out the tartness) and eat them until we got stomachaches. 

The tree branches were always heavy with albaloo and because it is a bit delicate, it has to be eaten quickly or used in some other way. So sometimes my cousins and I had the project of picking as many as we could. My aunts would then dry them to make albaloo khoshk, dried albaloo, that would later be eaten as a snack. Sometimes they would boil the fruit into paste, pour it onto large plastic sheets and leave it outside to dry to make lavashak, fruit roll-up. I remember one of my aunts always had huge sheets of plastic covered with albaloo khoshk and lavashak on her porch. Sometimes I couldn't wait until they were completely dry, so I'd sneak little pieces. 

Moraba albaloo, albaloo jam, is another common thing to make. There is nothing like homemade moraba albaloo with piping hot noon barbari, butter and a nice glass of chai shirin in the morning. Just thinking about it now makes my mouth water. Because you tend to eat the actual albaloo, there is always leftover syrup from the moraba. Instead of just throwing it out, we would make sharbat albaloo, an albaloo drink. We'd pour some of the syrup from the jam in a glass and dilute it with cold water (then adjust to taste). It was a refreshing drink that was commonly offered after arriving at someone's house. After our siestas, my aunts would make tea for the adults and sharbat albaloo for the kids.



Another common use of this fruit is albaloo polo, albaloo rice. It's actually quite a lovely looking rice as the yellow saffron, crimson albaloo and green pistachio slivers color it beautifully. But even though I have lots of love for albaloo, as I have never really been into sweet main dishes, this was never a favorite of mine. 




Lastly, during albaloo season in Iran, I looked forward to chai albaloo. It was a treat for me to have this kind of tea, and for some reason, it always took ages for it to cool down. Once it did, though, the color of the tea was something to be admired, and the sweet and sour taste hit the spot. 

My dear aunt saved and froze some albaloo from her tree for me, and on this hot summer day, not only chasbeed, but it also made me nostalgic for the good ol' summer days of albaloo picking with my cousins. Until the next visit, though, I'll settle for the memories and a nice cup of chai albaloo.

Pontia


2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your post on albaloo. We grow this type of cherry here in the pacific northwest and I was just trying to find some information on what people use the cherry for besides baking. We sell these (organically grown) at the farmers' markets in Portland, Oregon, and was informed by our customers that in the Middle East they are called "albaloo" --

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    1. Oh wow, I had no idea these existed in the US! Thank you for sharing. They are definitely used in a variety of ways in Iran. I think I love the jam and tea the most.

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