While we still have our toes dipped further east after talking about sumac, let me do a quickie on something else you’ve probably never heard of.
Samanoo. As you can see, I’ve just about finished this jar. Samanoo is a Persian sweet made of wheat sprouts and flour. It’s a typical Iranian new year treat. I had never heard of it until I found it next to the honey at a nearby health food store. I believe the owners are Persian, which is why they must’ve ordered it. I asked the woman at the counter about it and she said it’s good on bread, fruit, by itself… I think she also said she hadn’t had it in a long time and was glad to find it. After watching this video on how to make it, it’s no wonder she hadn’t had it in a while– making it at home takes forever.
Samanoo is made by mixing the wheat sprouts and flour with water, then cooking the mixture slowly and with frequent stirring. Sugar is not needed, but the result is thick, sweet, and smooth, with an interesting flavor that definitely reminds you of grain. It’s hard to find information on what happens chemically to wheat and water so that they become sweet through cooking. My educated guess (and for a guess, I’m pretty sure of it) is that first of all, wheat is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are actually sugar compounds, but not necessarily sugar like in candy bars. Essentially, sugar is just fuel for organisms, and different types of sugar/carbohydrates are often converted by chemical processes. So, in the case of samanoo, I would guess that the starch in the wheat is broken down by the cooking process, and converted into a simpler type of sugar. And simple sugars (or simple carbohydrates) tend to be sweeter.
I’m not sure if you can find this in a middle eastern grocery store, since Persian cuisine is rather different. But if you want to avoid someone for a few days just tell them you’re busy making this stuff.