Nazanin Ash’s Dish: Persian Baklava Recipe | PBS Food

Nazanin Ash’s Dish: Persian Baklava

Persian Baklava.

Nazanin Ash is the CEO of Welcome.US, a national initiative built to inspire, mobilize, and empower Americans from all corners of the country to welcome and support those seeking refuge here. Naz is one of the people Lidia met while making her special Flavors That Define Us, and she brought Persian Baklava to the potluck celebration held at Immigrant Food in Washington D.C. Naz says, "I chose this recipe because it’s something that my mother made in Iran and taught me to make here. I made this batch with my mother and my children, so it’s a recipe that our whole family loves. It’s the ingredients--pistachios, rose water, cardamom and honey-- that make this baklava Persian."



  • 1 package filo dough, thawed to room temp
  • 2 sticks high-quality unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups blanched almonds OR shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of ground cardamom, to taste
  • pinch of salt

  • For the syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons rosewater, to taste
  • a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
  • Dried rose petals, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 300
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan.
  3. In a food processor fitted with the cutting blade, pulse the nuts, sugar, cardamom and pinch of salt until it resembles fine sand. Do not overpulse--if it's sticky and doughy, it's overpulsed.
  4. With a pastry brush, coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13" baking pan with melted butter.
  5. Place 5 sheets of filo dough on the bottom, allowing some filo dough to come up three-quarters of the way up on the sides of the pan but trimming the excess.
  6. With the pastry brush, generously coat the top of the filo dough with melted butter, covering the whole surface and brushing butter up onto the filo dough on the sides of the pan.
  7. Distribute about a cup of the nut mixture evenly across the filo dough, using more of the nut mixture as needed.
  8. Cover with two sheets of filo dough, trimming any excess.
  9. With the pastry brush, generously coat the filo dough with butter, distribute another cup or so of the nut mixture, and repeat the process (filo, butter, nut mixture) 4-5 times until you've used all of the nut mixture.
  10. Cover the last layer of nuts with 2 sheets of filo, brush with butter, and cover with 3 more sheets of filo, allowing some excess filo all around the edges of the pan. Brush generously with the remaining melted butter.
  11. Using a paring knife and using the pastry brush to gently hold the filo in place, cut diagonal lines through all the layers, beginning about an inch away from the corner of the pan and working your way across the pan, leaving about an inch between each line.
  12. Then use the same process to cut vertical lines one inch apart, forming diamonds.
  13. Bake the baklava at 300 for about 45 minutes to an hour, checking frequently to ensure the filo is not over-browning.
  14. The baklava is finished baking when you can smell the aroma of the nuts and the filo dough is lightly browned and flaky on top.
  15. While the filo dough is baking, make the syrup.
  16. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar.
  17. Heat over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved.
  18. Add the honey and rosewater, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  19. Stir until combined.
  20. When the baklava is baked, remove it from the over and immediately drizzle the syrup generously over the whole pan, distributing it evenly.
  21. Allow the baklava to cool thoroughly, to room temperature. If desired, garnish with dried rose petals.
  22. Enjoy! Especially with a good strong cup of Persian tea.
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