Rock candy has been part of traditional Chinese medicine. In Mexico, rock candy is offered during the Day of the Dead. In Iran, rock candy has been a symbol of happiness ever since time immemorial, such that it is always present in weddings and celebrations. Nabat is Persian for rock candy that is significantly part of the Iranian food culture.
How is it made?
The incredible crystals of the rock candy is made from a mixture of sucrose and water subjected to heat for a certain duration of time. In Iran, there are various types of nabat Persian locals use, such as those on strings, crushed, powdered, or even rock candy curtains. But perhaps the most popular one is rock candy on wooden sticks. Some nabat are infused with other flavours including saffron, cardamom, or cinnamon. Thinner rock candies with clear crystals are generally regarded as having a higher quality than the rest.
How is it used?
More often than not, rock candies are consumed by the Iranians with their tea. They gently stir the rock candies on sticks in a warm cup to sweeten their drink. But aside from being used as a sweetener, nabat is known to have healing properties too. In fact, Iranian grandmothers give their grandchildren a cup of hot water with nabat to help ease their tummy aches. For women, this rock candy can also alleviate their cramps or relieve the feeling of being bloated. These sugar crystals are not really common in regular grocery stores, but it is a mainstay in Iranian or Middle Eastern grocery stores.
How is it made?
If you are having a hard time finding these precious crystallised gems, you can try making your own. It will be best to infuse your rock candy with a hint of saffron. After which, all you need is some granulated sugar and water. The first thing that you need to do is to grind your saffron threads into powder and infuse it in boiling water for about ten minutes.
The next thing is to focus your attention on your granulated sugar. Simply wet some wooden sticks before rolling them in the sugar. Then, boil some water and begin adding some sugar, one cup at a time, making sure that you stir the mixture each time to properly dissolve the sugar. Boil the syrup until all your sugar has been added and dissolved, then remove it from heat.
Add a teaspoon of your saffron solution and let the syrup cool down for about ten minutes. Pour the syrup in a jar and lower your skewers until they hang for about an inch from the bottom. You will be able to see crystals forming in about a couple of hours. Allow the rock candy to grow into the size that you want before removing it and allowing it to dry for a few minutes.
Once you have your own rock candy, you can then enjoy them with a warm cup of your tea. Otherwise, just grab some of these ready made sweet treats from your favourite Iranian online or brick and mortar store.