Dalauzi is a forgotten Armenian sweet, made of honey, walnuts, and poppy seeds.
It is a very concentrated dessert, high in calories, and extremly sweet. Its texture resembles that of ordinary candies, slightly softer due to the fat content of walnuts and poppy seeds in its composition. Its color is dark brown, given by the caramelized honey, with visible walnut pieces and poppy seeds. This recipe comes from the Armenian communities of Transylvania, like the ones from Gheorgheni in Mureș county, as well as Gherla in Cluj county.
In the past, this dessert was not consumed by children, but mainly by men. Dalauzi was the favorite sweet of Armenian merchants, which they consumed during their long journeys (to give them energy) and during business negotiations. A merchant’s bargaining partner was not considered a good partner, if the merchant “didn’t even serve with dalauzi.” The dalauzi was thus the key to a successful business negotiation and it was on the table in every successful deal. It is said that the presence/absence of this dessert on the table during the negotiation sent a message. In other words, if the Armenian merchant did not welcome his potential partner with dalauzi, it would have meant that he did not want to do business with him.
Nowadays, dalauzi is served in Hungarian speaking Armenian communities during religious holidays, on Easter and Christmas (It is offered to children after caroling the hosts.) and other religious events linked to the patrons of the Armenian churches, but also on the occasion of Armenian culture festivals organized by the cultural associations of Armenians from Gheorgheni, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu Mureș or Bucharest. The dessert was rediscovered by the Hungarian speaking adult population who lived in cities with Armenian communities in Transylvania and moved to Hungary, out of their desire to relive the taste of childhood and to preserve the cultural and gastronomic heritage of the space from which they left.
Ingredients: 1 part of polyfloral honey, 4 parts of chopped walnuts (not ground), 2-3 teaspoons of poppy seeds (to taste). The recipe is not that easy. You have to roast the walnuts and then chop them, put the honey in a large saucepan and bring it to boil over low heat. The honey is then boiled, stirring constantly, till it is caramelized. It takes approximately 15 minutes. To check when it is ready, if you drip a little honey on a cold plate and the honey droplet does not spread but remains spherical, then it is done. Notice the change in color to red brownish. At the same time, heat the poppy seeds in another smaller pot, stirring several times, and then mix them with the caramelized honey. Add the chopped walnuts, and work it all together well. Spread the mixture on a wet ceramic plate and cut it into small cubes with a damp sharp knife. It is necessary to work quickly, ideally several persons together, so that the mixture does not cool and harden before shaping the desired forms. Wet your palms, and shape a ball from each cube. Leave them to dry for 24 hours at room temperature.
Dalauzi can be kept for more than one month if it stored in a cool place, but it hardens with time. In the past, it was the favorite sweet of Armenian merchants, which they consumed during their long journeys. But nowadays, it is usually prepared in small quantities, to be served in a few days. Nowadays it is not stored for long periods, but it could be.
The situation of the Armenian community in Romania remains dire and its future uncertain. There are very few Armenians left in Romania, and the knowledge of Armenian is extremely limited (fewer than 1000 native speakers). Many of the younger Armenians actually come from mixed marriages.
Dalauzi is still prepared only in a few Armenian families from Transylvania, mainly Hungarian speaking: in Gheorgheni, Gherla or Târgu Mureș or with different public religious or cultural event of the Armenian communities.