November 4, 2016

Let’s talk about…. Baklava

Story by Jennifer Simpson
(Fort Irwin/NTC PAO)
Fresh, homemade baklava sits in a pan waiting for Saideh Zam, an Army spouse stationed at Fort Irwin, and her friends and family.

FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Family members on Fort Irwin are unique in every way and Saideh Zam, who goes by Sally, is an exceptional U.S. Army spouse who loves to cook and share her love of cooking with others.

A native of Iran, Zam is from the northern, Turkish, city of Tabriz.

“The Turkish are famous for their food,” Zam said. “Tabriz is famous for food, sweets, and nuts.”

Zam takes a lot of pride in her cooking today, but this wasn’t always the case. Growing up, she didn’t like to cook or deal with food. It wasn’t until she married that she had any interest in food, baking, or cooking. After she married her husband, she realized his family was the ‘eating’ type of people and discovered the joy of food.

“They eat with joy. They enjoy eating. They eat all the time,” said Zam.

Influenced by her mother and mother-in-law, Zam then took up an interest in cooking.

“My mother-in-law is a wonderful cook. So because I want to make my husband happy and spend time with me, I started to cook and I love it,” said Zam.

Zam’s cooking interest didn’t just stop at basic cooking skills. She now adjusts recipes according to her and her family’s tastes.

“I love making foods. I love trying different things. I make up some things,” said Zam. “I change some recipes to whatever I can find here (internet).”

Baklava is a Zam favorite recipe and she even adjusted a recipe she found online in order to suit her tastes.

“I looked at some recipes. I have a friend who has a blog for foods and ideas about foods and I changed hers,” said Zam.

Food means many things for different people, but it’s what it means to Zam that makes cooking worthwhile.

“Food means friends for me. I’m a person and I need friends around me,” said Zam. “I’ve made friends here, American, Persian, African, Arabs. I have Columbian friends. I have lots of friends. I like to gather. I like to talk. So whenever I make special food, I call at least one of my friends.”

To put it simply, Zam stated, “Food means friends and families gathering and listening to each other. This is the meaning of food for me.”

Zam is a unique Army spouse with a great talent for making food to share with others in order to open her home up and invite new and old friends for a gathering.

Zam has been married for 14 years and has lived in the United States for five years due to her husband’s service in the U.S. Army.

Baklava Recipe


1) Filo dough (FD)1 pack

2) Walnut 2 cups (ground)

3) Cardemon (ground) 1 tbsp.

4) For syrup:

Sugar 2 cups

Water 1 cup

(Boil them together for 5 minutes. Let it get completely cold before bake the Baklava)

5) For sauce:

Unsalted Butter 1 cup

Vegetable oil ½ cup

(Melt the butter and mix with the oil)

6) Cake pan 13*9*2 inches

Put 2 tbsps. of oil on the pan and spread it with the brush. Put 4 sheets of filo dough for the first layers. Spread the 3 tbsps. of oil on it with brush.  Spread walnut on the layers. Put 2 FD layer on walnut layers. Put 3 tbsps. oil and brush all over it.  Continue putting 2 layers of FD and oil in between till the last FD. Then put the 3tbsp on the top layer. Cut it to 15 pcs. And put it in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or till it gets goldish.

After it baked take it out and put 2 cups of syrup all over it immediately.

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