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|Place of origin||Iran (Persia) , Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan|
|Main ingredients||Germinated wheat|
Samanu (Persian: سمنو / samanu; Azerbaijani: səməni halvası), Samanak (Persian: سمنک / samanak), Sümelek (Turkmen: Sümelek / Syumelek) Sumanak (Tajik: суманак); Sumalak Uzbek: sumalak [sʉmælˈæk]) or Sümölök (Kyrgyz: сүмөлөк [symœlˈœk]) is a sweet paste made entirely from germinated wheat (young wheatgrass), which is prepared especially for Nowruz (New Year's Day) in a large pot (like a kazan). This practice has been traced back to the pre-Islamic Persia. Although Samanu is prominent for Haft Sin in Iran, the preparation "mela" and eating it is traditional in Afghanistan.
The wheat is soaked and prepared for days and so the entire process takes up to a week. Traditionally, the final cooking would take from evening till the daylight and was a party, mostly involving only women. This would be full of laughter and music and singing related songs. In Afghanistan and Uzbekistan the whole gathering, mostly women, gather near the huge pot: sit in a circle, sing songs, have fun, each of them waits for their turn to stir the sumalak. While stirring the samanak, wishes can be made. Also, whole walnuts are thrown in near the end of the preparation while making a wish. In the morning still warm sumalak is handed out to neighbors, relatives and friends. In Tajikistan and Afghanistan they sing: Samanak dar Jūsh u mā Kafcha zanēm – Dīgarān dar Khwāb u mā Dafcha zanēm. (meaning: "Samanak is boiling and we are stirring it, others are asleep and we are playing daf").
The Azerbaijani proverb "Səməni, ay səməni, hər il göyərdərəm səni" ("Samanu, o samanu, I try to make you grow every year") refers to the annual renewal of nature.
In modern times, making Samanu can be a family activity. Traditional Samanu is made entirely of germinated wheat and water (no other ingredients). Nowadays, it is common to add a bit of flour to speed up the thickening process, although this makes the paste taste somewhat bitter and less sweet.
A plate or bowl of Samanu is a traditional component of the Haft-sin table.
- Navruz in Uzbekistan: Feast of the Renewal of Nature, Advantour
- Persian script: سمنک در جوش و ما کفچه زنیم – دیگران در خواب و ما دفچه زنیم
- Nowruz in Tajikistan, BBC Persian
- "Nowruz in Afghanistan, BBC Persian".
- مهدی بشیر. "24 ساعت - نو روز باستانی در کشور عزیز ما افغانستان".