I first tried Niloofar’s products with fellow food editors during a Napa Valley fine dining tour almost five years ago. We all agreed it was the best thing we tasted that weekend. On the package, it’s described as trail mix. And while it is a blend of nuts and dried fruit, it’s nothing like camping sustenance. This is pure pleasure.
Founder Niloofar Mirani grew up with her father’s Persian cooking at home and in their family restaurant in Illinois, and wanted to share that deliciousness by packaging this traditional snack mix. She and her father spent a year sourcing the highest quality nuts and dried fruit and perfecting their ratios in each bag.
Niloofar’s traditional ajil combines mulberries, figs, golden berries and raisins with walnuts and salted almonds and cashews; the celebration version mixes dates, black mulberries, dried sour cherries and golden berries with salted pistachios and almonds.
Like a great restaurant dish, the ingredients are of an unattainable-to-regular-folks quality and proportioned with the ideal balance of flavors and textures. Here, it’s signature Persian salty-sweet-sour with crunch and chew. You can’t re-create this ajil yourself. Trust me, I’ve tried.
You can, however, order directly from its site (niloofarmix.com; $9.99 per 6.5-oz. bag) or pick some up at Erewhon. That’s where I saw it shortly before Nowruz, the Persian new year, which fell this year on the week that shelter-in-place orders were announced across the state.
Ajil is traditionally eaten during the fire festival known as chaharshanbe on Nowruz’s eve. On that night, it’s called ajil e moshkel gosha. In Farsi, the latter half of the phrase means to solve problems or relieve troubles, so you make that wish while munching.
It’s maybe something we all should try now. Even if you skip the wish-making step, you’ll still enjoy savoring this snack that tastes like a little luxury.