Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Springtime Celebrations: Persian New Year!

The spread!
My favorite holiday of the year has come and gone... and I'm finally blogging about it! Many years ago, I had a nice boyfriend from Iran. He was the one who taught me all about NoRooz, or Persian New Year, and I always looked forward to celebrating it with him. We broke up after a few years, but I kept right on celebrating NoRooz. NoRooz is celebrated at the exact moment of the Spring Equinox - which already makes it pretty damn cool.

Plus, you get to eat tons of delicious Persian food, which makes it even more cool. This is my annual big pot of Ash-e Resteh (recipe here). Plus some flat breads from Trader Joes... usually I go all out for NoRooz and make my own Persian bread, but this year I had a cold, so I was keeping it simple. This soup, by the way, is THE BEST. I really recommend it. It takes a long time, but most of it is not active time - so it's a good recipe for when you're home doing other stuff anyway. It's full of beans and lentils and greens and beets and veggies and herbs and it is GOOD.

Also, a big batch of Kuku Sabzi - vegan style! Traditional kuku sabzi is an omelette - so I use Isa's vegan omelette recipe from Vegan Brunch as a base. Here's my recipe. You gotta make 'em small though. We found that because of all the herbs in the batter, there is a lot more moisture and they are delicate. But also so totally delicious. There wasn't even one little morsel leftover!

This year's Sabzi Polow (rice with herbs) was my most successful ever! I am finally getting the hang of this dang thing, and I am stoked about it! Isn't that beautiful?? I love how the NoRooz dishes are all packed full of herbs as a way of celebrating springtime. Of course, nowadays we can buy fresh herbs all year long, but back in the day, it would have been a realy sign of spring. I think I bought 3 dills and 4 parsley and 4 cilantro and 2 scallions and 2 mints for this whole menu. Yum!

Of course you've gotta have a nice fresh salad with dinner. Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, olives, fresh mint and fresh parsley - all dressed with an olive oil & pomegranate molasses. The fresh mint really makes it.

In addition to dinner, I made a couple of special drinks. I made a really simple and delicious Pomegranate-Lime Spritzer (no pic!), with fresh pomegranate juice, fresh squeezed lime juice, and sparkly water. Perfect! I also made this wonderful concoction - Persian Dried Lime "Tea". It's a little sweet and a little earthy, and I really love it.

And of course there was dessert too! For dessert this year, I made an array of mixed sweeties and candies. Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats was very happy!

The first thing you gotta have for NoRooz is Sohan As-Ali. I love these candies so much and I look forward to them every year. They're a type of brittle, made with almonds and saffron and rosewater, with pistachios sprinkled on top. They are magically delicious. There's a recipe on this old link.

I also made Tut again - a traditional marzipan made with almonds and rosewater and powdered sugar... and then rolled to look like little white mulberries. They are cute and small and easy to make, and really lovely to eat. Mr. VE&T was calling them "sugar bunnies," which is also a cute name. Maybe if you stuck in two little pistachio slivers, you could really make them look like bunnies. :) Here's the recipe I used.

This year we also tried something new and made some candied almonds, following a "recipe" from New Food of Life, a Persian cookbook I had checked out of the library. I put "recipe" in quotes, because it was pretty vague in its instructions... We did our best and they ended up super yummy.

The last sweetie we made was an idea that I totally ripped off from the man who sells dates at the farmer's market. I was going to do something with almonds and dates until he offered me a half-date covered in grated coconut and walnut chunk. YUM. I went home and replicated the exact same thing. So simple, so delicious.

Here's the Haft Sin table - all set up in the warm glow of candles. All the items on the table symbolize different things to recognize at the beginning of each year: growth, health, reflection, medicine, old age, prosperity, life, and so on. It's really such a beautiful holiday, and that's the real reason I love NoRooz so much. Not just because I get to eat so much delicious food!

Happy Spring!


  1. I look forward to this post all year! This spread looks amazing, as always.

  2. I love No Rooz! Such a beautiful holiday, and this year's spread looks amazing! Its so convenient to have all these recipes in one place too.

    Happy Spring!

  3. Wow, what an awesome spread! Everything looks amazing!

  4. I always love your No Rooz posts! I think it's great that you celebrate a holiday that you discovered as an adult and that even after the relationship ended with the person who introduced you to it, you continue to celebrate it every year. I have a fondness for No Rooz too, because for many years I had a pen pal from Iran who would send me pictures and things from her celebrations. One year I went to the biggest No Rooz festival outside of Iran, which is in Southern California. People were picnicking with their families and round portions of grass were floating in the pond. I love learning about the celebrations of another culture. Next year I need to have one of my own. You make it look deliciously fun!

  5. Wow Cadry, That's so cool. That part of NoRooz is one of my favorites. I forget what it's called in Farsi, but you get to go out for a picnic and then throw your sprouts in the water. I love it! If you're ever in Santa Cruz, you can come to my NoRooz party! :)

  6. Amey, thanks for posting this. Your food always looks so delectable! I love the coconut walnut dates especially - did you shave the coconut yourself or is it sweetened shredded coconut, or is it available frozen...? Cracking open a coconut strikes me as a dangerous endeavor!

  7. Yay! I would so love that! I'm there! :)

  8. THAT's the spread when you were under the weather?! Looks fantastic, as always, especially the super successful Sabzi Polow!


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