Manna Update: Candygram

by Dave Arnold

I recently posted on manna, the stuff that God sent to the Israelites in the Bible.  You can read the post here, or read the New York Times article I wrote here.  Manna isn’t one single thing, it is a category of foods –sweet to the taste and providential in nature.  Most of mannas are the dried sap (or the honeydew excreted by bugs who eat the sap) of various desert shrubs.

Theorizing about exactly which shrub variety produced the manna in the bible is a favorite debate in some circles, and Tamarisk manna, from the Tamarisk tree, is often the top contender.

In Iran, tamarisk manna is know as Gaz.  It has been used for centuries to make a candy also known as gaz, whose primary ingredient is manna.  Most gaz candy today is counterfeit, but friend of the blog Kitchengrl ( managed to send us the real deal.  This one isn’t from Iran, it’s from Iraqi Kurdistan.  Here is a picture of the box:

Tofiq Halwachy manna candy, outside of the box on left, inside on right. Photo courtesy of Kitchengrl.

And a closeup of the picture of the town inside the box:

The town where they make this stuff. Photo courtesy of Kitchengrl.

Here is the best part: the ingredient list, and a description of the history, uses, and gathering of manna:

This is a must read. It has some translation issues --like "john death" instead of "jaundice."

The candy is flavored with cardamom and pistachios, which balance well with the manna.  The most manna-like aspect of the candy is its texture –chewy, gummy, with a bit of a snap as it breaks.

The candy in its wrapper.

This photo shows the texture of the breaking manna:

You can guess the texture by looking at the way it breaks in this photo.

Great stuff.  Thanks Kitchengrl.

11 thoughts on “Manna Update: Candygram

  1. OMGGGGG I can’t believe you posted this article about gaz!!! This sounds silly, but I didn’t know non-Iranians knew about this heavenly sweet treat. I usually stuff a few at a time into my mouth lol. The best stuff is from Iran though ;). Thanks for the post!

  2. Fascinating that the description says ‘when manna falls from the sky’ when describing the /current/ process.

  3. it took me a minute but i finally realized what ur talking about is what we call man-w-salwa in lebanon. The type im used to doesnt break, is very gooey and soft. Gets harder w age.

    and then i never realized that Salep is something i actually grew up drinking, we call it Sah-lab.

    I always have relatives going for a visit, and sometimes i can find this stuff in michigan where i live (lots of middleeastern stores), so let me know if y’all ever need anyting, and i’ll see if i can get it.

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed it! The upsetting thing is that I received some of a different type of manna (same maker) last year but the ants got to it. It was less processed and was nestled in a sort of floury substance within the box, sort of loose.

    If my contact returns to Kurdistan (and I think his tour is over, but you never know), I’m going to request some.

  5. A friend from Kurdistan brought us a box of this the other day, and it is A-MA-ZING. Just absolutely delish. Addicting!!!

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