March 08, 2010

Poolaki: Persian Caramelized Hard Sugar Candy

This is a caramelized hard sugar candy from the city of Isfahan, located in the central part of Iran. I was ten years old when I first tasted poolaki during one of my family's annual summer travels where we visited the historic city of Isfahan. My parents bought many bags of poolaki as a souvenir (soghati) among many other things that the beautiful city of Isfahan is known for! Poolaki is a sweet candy usually served best along with hot and fresh brewed tea. Poolaki from Isfahan is exceptionally tasty and delicate and no homemade version of it would ever come close to the real thing. However, with the Persian New Year fast approaching I've decided to give it a try! So, this is my attempt at making candy. It may not turn out quite like the authentic poolaki that you might buy from the bazaar in Isfahan, but it's the closest thing to it if you miss having it with your tea during the holiday! This is not a sugar cube to melt quickly in your mouth and it's not that soft to chew or swallow quickly, you need to take time and experience the magic of poolaki. Make yourself a nice cup of fresh brewed tea, take a poolaki, dip the corner of it into the hot tea, place the candy in your mouth, taste the sweetness of it and then take a sip of your tea. Let the bitterness of the tea mix in with the candy, and for a nostalgic moment you'll be walking down those old tree-lined streets of Chahar Bagh among the crowd of early evening shoppers where everyone looks happy! I mentioned a nostalgic moment with a heavy heartfelt wish, didn't I?

 Khajoo Bridge, Isfahan,  Iran, Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Chehel Sotoun, Isfahan, Iran, Wikipedia
Si-o-se pol (33 bridge), Isfahan, Iran, Wikipedia

Poolaki recipe adapted from Persian Cuisine: Traditional Food/ Book 1 by M.R.Ghanoonparvar

Poolaki: Persian Caramelized Hard Sugar Candy

1 cup sugar

Crushed pistachios, shredded coconuts, powdered saffron, finely crushed dried lemon, barberries (zereshk) (I used shredded coconut).

  1. In a heavy small pan place a cup of sugar and heat it up on a medium to high heat, stirring frequently.
  2. When the sugar is melted, swirl it around the pot a couple of times. 
  3. As soon as the syrup turns an amber color, remove from heat. 
  4. Do not over cook and boil the syrup. 
  5. Mix in any of the toppings that you like and quickly, with a tip of a teaspoon, drop the syrup onto a clean and dry baking dish covered with parchment paper. 
  6. An easier variation is to pour the syrup onto the flat baking pan and spread it out. 
  7. When dried, which only takes a few minutes, break it into small pieces by using the back of a heavy spoon or if the pan is flexible move and twist the four corners. 
Serve with tea.

Enjoy and Happy Spring!


  1. Azita
    Isfahan is on my list of places to visit; my parents spent part of their honeymoon there and to them it was a magical place. All I have to do is look at the photos and I know they did indeed experience that. Your candy is wonderful and I applaud you for trying to recreate the original.

  2. I've never tried to make candy's always kind of scared me. I love your toppings though!

  3. Sounds like a yummy treat and great topping choices!

  4. :) where is part of Iran you come from, Azita ? My husband from Isfahan, Khajoei is his family name. He talked about the bridge alot.. He always proud to tell story about spending time with old friends around the bridge

    Have a nice spring too, dear..

  5. azita joon, i read this post yesterday but was too lazy to log in to my blogger account to comment. i wish the keyboard would type on its own sometimes after a long day of work, no? :) i love how you have put photos of Isfahan, we should show the world more and more of our countries to show them the beauty, rather than the negative things, which the media, sadly portrays. hope to one day perhaps, have this poolaki with you with a cup of tea. it is beautiful, like a jewel. lovely post, azita joon.

  6. This sounds really easy with only a few ingredients.. but I am not so good in making candies. such a pretty glazed look.

  7. Fitri, I'm not from Isfahan but I love the city of Isfahan very much!

  8. It's been awhile since I've seen these candies, thanks for bringing back sweet memories.

  9. I've had these and they are yummy - I cannot wait to try making them with the barberries! Thanks for this great post!

  10. I am half Persian and grew up having poolaki with tea. The other day I was making caramel and when I tried a small piece that had hardened, I realized it tasted just like it. I was wondering what the exact method was for making it, so I tried searching for it on google even though I had no idea how to spell it. I came across your site and am so glad I did, if just to read about someone else's rendition of that tea with poolaki moment and know just what the experience is like :) I'm about to take a look at the rest of your site to see what other dishes I recognize!

  11. Thank you for this lovely blog. I am so happy I found it, and all the great recipes you have in here :)