Ardeh, a miraculous potion from Ardakan

Sadeq Dehqan

Staff writer

 

It is said that a war broke out in Iran in the winter season during the reign of Shah Abbas Safavid (1571-1629 CE), simultaneous with the ministry of Sheikh Bahaei, the famous scientist of his period. The king ordered his minister to provide the army with a food that has a long shelf life, is easy to carry, does not need to be heated, and is nutritious and energizing.

Sheikh Bahaei prepared a potion of sesame seed extract, named ardeh, in cooperation with a number of creative residents of Ardakan, a city in the central province of Yazd.

The new food, consumed by Safavid soldiers, helped increase their strength so that they did not get tired soon during long and hard battles.

Known as the famous souvenir of Ardakan, ardeh is produced in more than 100 workshops in the city, some of which are still operating in the traditional manner.

Gholamreza Farzandi Ardakani, the owner of a sesame oil extraction workshop located in the old section of the city, said in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily that raw sesame seeds are processed in the workshop to produce ardeh, halvardeh (a sweet, dense Iranian paste that is usually prepared with a base of sugar and ground sesame), sesame oil and ardeh oil.

Describing the process of ardeh production, he said that the sesame seeds are first soaked in water for about four to 12 hours. Then they are taken out of the water and poured into a tank to be rotated along with sand. This causes the thin skins on the sesame seeds to peel off.

“In the next step, the sesame seeds are poured into a small pool of salt water to be purified. As a result, the sesame seeds are floated on the surface of the water and the remaining skins and soils settle at its bottom”.

He added that this is repeated until all sesame seeds are completely cleaned. In order to remove their saltiness, the sesame seeds are poured into the fresh water tank, to be washed several times. Subsequently, the sesame seeds, poured into a container, are placed inside a traditional furnace, under which a fire is lit.

The heating process must be done very carefully because the seeds must be completely roasted while their surface should not be burnt.

“Finally, sesame seeds are ground gradually to produce a brown potion, known as ardeh. Moreover, the oil that comes from ardeh has medicinal properties,” Farzandi said.

Ardeh oil, which contains magnesium, is useful for people with diabetes and prevents respiratory tract spasms. Since this oil is rich in antioxidants, it helps prevent heart disease and blood clots. In addition, the oil, which is rich in various minerals including zinc and calcium, not only helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but is also very useful for treating stress and constipation.