If Tehran is known for its high-rise buildings, Qom, a small province near the capital, is famous for its Sohan, one of the most popular Iranian sweets. Sohan is an Iranian sweet, or better say, a kind of Halva that is made of wheat sprout.
This sweet exits in a variety of shapes and types. Some of them include honey Sohan, sesame Sohan, Halva Sohan, Almond Sohan, GazSohan, Loghmeh Sohan, butter Sohan, cotton candy Sohan, Dessert Sohan etc.
Iranians produce and sell Sohan in almost all cities across the country. These cities include Yazd, Zarand, Kerman, Tehran and Isfahan. However, the sohan confectioners make in Zarand city of Kerman province is softer and finer than the sohan of Qom. In fact, the small amount of oil used in Zarand Sohan gives it a longer shelf life.a
Nevertheless, the traditional Sohan of Qom is the most popular and most famous type of Sohan among Iranians. Moreover, visitors can find the largest amount and the most diverse types of Sohan in Qom.
History of Sohan
Sohan was first produced in Qom during the Qajar era. It was between 1910-1911 AD when the government intended to open one of the sections of the Masume’s holy Shrine.
Since Naser al-Din Shah was going to present in person, the leading figures of Qom conducted a magnificent ceremony. For security reasons, however, he sent his representative to Qom. Sticking to traditional customs, the leading figures of the city would usually offer gifts to the shah. In fact, it meant to be as a token of respect across Iran. The Gifts included handicrafts, foods, cow, sheep, gold etc.
Meanwhile, one of the leading figures named Mulla Ibrahim Shamaei offered some sort of sweet Halva to Shah’s representative. After lunch was served, the shah’s representative had some Halva. Surprised by its taste, he said “the Sohan digested my food just as a rasp abrades a piece of iron”. As a result, Suhan (Rasp) is actually homophonous with Sohan (confection).
This event marked the beginning of halva (that was referred to as Sohan) production and consumption. Initially, only leading figures and aristocrats could afford this sweet. However, it turned to a popular sweet over time and the public also could afford it.
The ingredients of the most popular Iranian sweets!
The ingredients of the first Sohan, that was more like a soft Halva, included flour, sugar, oil, pistachio, saffron, Cardamom and rose water.
Over time, however, other ingredients such as egg yolk were added to the mixture and wheat flour was replaced with wheat sprouts make the Halva more brittle and increases the shelf-life of the product.
Over time, however, the confectioners added other ingredients such as egg yolk were to the mixture. Besides, they replaced wheat flour with wheat sprouts making the Halva more brittle. In addition, this replacement gave the product a longer shelf life.
Nutritional value of Sohan
Wheat sprout is the main nutritional ingredient of Sohan. Light brown color as well as fragrance and flavor which mainly depend on the ingredients, determinate the product quality.
Moreover, Sohan mostly owes its nutritional properties to wheat sprout. This ingredient is rich in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamins B and E.
Due to a source of natural sugar, wheat sprout contributes to energy storage in muscles, improves muscle performance and prevent fatigue and lethargy.
The type of oil and butter used in sohan production can also affect its quality. Premium Sohan is not too hard and does not stick to the teeth. Tasting is also a good way to test the quality of Sohan. In other words, you can distinguish poor quality ingredients of Sohan by tasting it.