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Mar 25, 2003 06:45 PM

Help me find Iranian pastries/sweets in Toronto

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My recent creme brulee rediscovery prompts me to ask if anybody knows where I might find the Iranian sweet
'disks' - about the size of a loonie and predominantly hard sugar (e.g. like brulee topping) but including flavours such as saffron, lemon peel, and coconut (those are the flavours I've tried). Haven't been able to find them here (and don't know what they're called).
Also recommendations for where I can find the best (or any)Iranian pastries please.

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  1. Hi, estufarian:

    Have you tried Shirini Sara? It's in the middle of nowhere (Leslie north of York Mills), but I used to work in the area and used to pop in once in a while for the wonderful Iranian cookies and gata (sweet bread). I am not familiar with the "disks", but perhaps you could phone them and describe it.

    The link to their website is below.

    I have an Iranian friend who may know about the disks - I'll ask him tomorrow and post here if he has any info (he is familiar with the Iranian food shops in the Yonge - Steeles area). I have several Persian/Iranian cookbooks, but can't find any recipes for these disk things. Now I'm really intrigued, because they sound really good!


    10 Replies
    1. re: Heather

      Shirini Sara is definitely worth the detour, I brought home wonderfully strange powdery little cookies made out of chick-pea flour and heavily flavoured with cardamom that fell apart the moment you touched them. They also have saffron ice cream, and saffron ice-cream sandwiches. Toronto's suburban industrial plazas are the home of fascinating food.
      Anyone in the area should also visit the Armenian Bakery on Victoria Park south of Lawrence -- great bread and,occasionally, fresh (i.e yellow) dates.

      1. re: John A.

        Thanks both of you. I must have driven past this place dozens of times. Will definitely visit.
        Your mention of fresh dates is coincidental. It was my discovery of fresh dates from Iran in a Mississauga supermarket that prompted this request. They were from Bam (in Iran), sometimes considered the 'best in the world' (OK, this is not intended to start a date thread, but we have served them to about a dozen friends, all of whom said they were the best dates they'd ever tasted; and before anyone asks I didn't note the name, but know the location). I figured that if somebody was taking the trouble to import fresh dates, then the sweet discs have to be around.
        And saffron ice cream too. Again, something I've been searching for since I had some of Gelato Fresco's last year (they'll make it again if I order 4½ litres, but even I can't consume that much).

        1. re: estufarian

          I described your disks to my Iranian friend, and he said that there's an Iranian sweet resembling a peanut brittle, called "sohan". He's never heard of coconut or lemon peel flavours, though (saffron is apparently common). Alvand (Iranian grocer in Kensington Market) carries the pistachio sohans. I don't know if sohan is what you're looking for. I came across these things in my Persian cookbooks last night, but it never occurred to me that your disks would be like peanut brittle.

          Anyway... My friend suggested that you try some of the grocery stores on Yonge between Finch and Steeles (he doesn't know what they're called in English). I know the general location, but sorry, I don't know the stores' names either - they're on the east side of Yonge, and the largest one is a 24-hour Iranian convenience store at the south end of a plaza (right beside a side street or an alleyway). The other stores are on the other side of the side street, in the adjacent plaza.

          Please let us know what you find!

          1. re: Heather

            I had forgotten Avland. Already had an old note to myself to check it out. And I've seen grocery stores in the stretch of Yonge you mentioned - and also in the Ellesmere/Markham/Lawrence area. Was hoping to narrow the field (or at least find a starting point). The disks are very thin, like a wafer, and traditionally are placed on the tongue before, and while drinking, tea. This replaces putting sugar in the tea (or could be in addition to). But I preferred them as a candy substitute. Thanks for the possible name. My recollection is that I only saw them in Isfahan, so perhaps they're a local treat.

            1. re: Heather

              Found a label from the export store.
              Of the few western alphabet words, some are the name and address (?brand = 'nooshin'). The description (I think) says 'Polaky & Nabat'. I believe 'nabat' means 'sugar'. The other word (Polaky) is a mystery to me - could be a phonetic translation. Can your Iranian friend help?

              1. re: estufarian

                Hi, estufarian:

                Sorry about the delay! Just talked to my friend a few minutes ago. He has no idea what this "polaky" is. "Nabat" is indeed sugar - he says it's something like crystallized sugar cubes. And "Nooshin" is a woman's name, according to him.

                1. re: Heather

                  Thanks - I'll try asking for 'nabat' and see if it helps. Hoping to explore a little this weekend.

                2. re: estufarian

                  Hi, estufarian:

                  Sorry about the delay! Just talked to my friend a few minutes ago. He has no idea what this "polaky" is. "Nabat" is indeed sugar - he says it's something like crystallized sugar cubes. And "Nooshin" is a woman's name, according to him.

            2. re: Heather

              Made a visit on the weekend. What a great discovery. Thanks, Heather. Have driven past it (unwittingly) dozens of times. You'd never stumble over it unless you know it's there.
              Bought some of the 'sweet flaky pastry' cookies. Addictive! And a few other things, including Iranian candies and DATES FROM BAM. Sensational as always - and now I don't have to drive to Mississauga to find them.
              Unfortunately, no 'nabat'. But he knew exactly what I was looking for and has suggested a few places to try (including Yonge around Finch). So the quest continues.

              Also noticed that the Saffron/Pistachio ice cream was in stock, as well as 'frozen noodles'. I'd never seen this in Canada before. It's an acquired taste, but on a hot summers day (if we ever get any of those) they're really refreshing when topped with lemon or rosewater. Maybe we'll get a Presidents Choice 'Memories of Isfahan'.

            3. Another source may be Red Rose Patisserie at 5467 Yonge (223-5551) and 6184 Yonge (223-6001) which carries Iranian pastries and cookies. I am not familiar with the one you’re looking for but it's worth a look. (The one closer to Steeles is larger). If not there are many groceries along Yonge from Finch to Steeles which carry breads and sweets among other things, including Fine Food Mart at 6125 Yonge (24hr). Red Rose also carries ice cream - they have regular flavours as well as Persian/Iranian ones. I like the saffron one. Here’s some background from the Toronto Star last summer on the ice cream (they’re called akbar mashti and falude shizari):

              Named after two famous cities in Iran, both were extremely refreshing, if a tad sweet. Akbar mashti carries hints of saffron and cardamom, whereas falude shirazi is made from cornstarch noodles.

              A while ago there were some queries about Persian/Iranian restaurants - I’ve noticed two along Yonge from Finch to Steeles:

              Zaffron - 6200 Yonge
              Darvish - 6087 Yonge

              I haven’t tried them so can’t report but a synopsis reviews are in the Toronto Life guides or may be on their web site.

              2 Replies
              1. re: verbena

                I've tried several Iranian/Persian restaurants. Not knocked out by any of them. Especially the ones in Toronto Life (but do like some of their other reccos).
                The stores I've seen in my rare expeditions up north, but haven't stopped to investigate. Next time I'm at a loose end maybe. Thanks for the info.

                1. re: estufarian

                  Enjoy the search. (I will let you know if I see any discs in my northern expeditions).

              2. I think that you should try Pars Bakery, in the *iranians* plaza in younge. Their pastries are delicious and they're always fresh. They also have a kebab take out inside, so if you get hungry, just grab a kebab or two. And by visiting Pars Bakery, i've learned they're also very nice people. Hope you try it and like it!