NoRooz Mobarak! Happy Persian New Year!
We had the Most Epic Persian New Year!As you probably already know, NoRooz is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the symbolism of the holiday, all the various parts of the celebration, and - of course - the food. For many years now, I've thrown a big party for NoRooz, but this year was definitely the best ever. By "best," I mean to say: "tastiest!" I spent all week planning, doing advance cooking and food prep, and then on Friday my awesome friend came over and spent 5 straight hours in the kitchen cooking with me! It was such a great thing to have her help and company in the kitchen, and we were so relaxed and happy all afternoon. It's pretty great to put together a huge feast and not even be stressin'. Here's what we ate:
Of course, you gotta have some bread for your cheese, so we made a batch of this Barbari No-Knead Bread. (actually, I must admit, my kitchen pal made this without any help from me!) It was really delicious and simple. I'll definitely make it again. I've always wanted to make fresh bread for NoRooz, but I've always chickened out in past years. I'm so glad we did it this year! The two loaves are topped with yummy, yummy nigella seeds. I love those oniony little guys!
One thing that is almost always served with Persian meals is a big plate of fresh herbs and red onion. I accidentally forgot to set aside some cilantro for my herb platter, so we had Italian parsley, red onion, and fresh mint. I love the way the fresh herbs and onion offer a zip of life to each bite.
semi-recipe is here), barberries, and walnuts. Last year we had trouble flipping our giant omeletes, so we learned our lesson and this year we made them the size of small pancakes. It was perfect! These creations are SO TASTY. I really recommend having your own little NoRooz party with yourself and making a batch of these. I can also personally testify that they make excellent breakfast leftovers the next day.
Another thing you must have for NoRooz is a beautiful Sabzi Polow! It's jasmine rice with a mountain of fresh, minced herbs, cooked in the Persian way to form a delicious golden crust called tahdig. So, so good. And, as you can see, my tahdig turned out really beautifully this year! After many years of tahdig failure, I am finally getting the hang of this thing. I need to put together my recipe still... I used a combo of an old recipe of mine and the Persian rice recipe from Vegan Eats World. I'll type up my recipe for you soon!
Here's a goofy picture of me that Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats took.
I was beaming with pride about my beautiful tahdig victory.
Also, I was wearing my brand new hot pink dress for NoRooz!
I know this isn't really the most beautiful picture, but this is such a delicious soup recipe! It's called Ash-e Reshteh, and it's another "must have" for NoRooz. (here's my recipe) It is absolutely packed full of veggie goodness: cups of chopped herbs (parsley, scallions, dill, cilantro, spinach), beets, 3 kinds of beans, lentils, onions, spices, and - at the very end - some noodles. Oh man, it is so good. For me, the Ash really makes the whole meal. As soon as I dive into my piping hot bowl of Ash, I know that NoRooz is here for sure. As my friend Jasmine said "It's the best meal of the year!"
Here is the whole spread! So much bounty!
also, look at the beautiful tulips from the farmers' market!
I realized that I forgot to take pictures of two really delicious dishes that I also made:
Persian Spinach with Orange Sauce (in the foreground in the square yellow Pyrex dish): such a beautiful stewy spinach with white beans and orange juice. I just love the flavor combos in this dish.
Adasi Lentils: (at the back of the picture in a little round yellow bowl) This was my first time ever making this dish and it was really delicious. I think it was Mr. VE&T's favorite. The recipe (found here) is so simple and straightforward, but the flavor is really delicious. The main seasoning is cinnamon and a special Persian spice called Angelica. Ground angelica can be a little hard to find - I needed to go to a specifically Persian market to find it, but I suppose you could always track it down online. It's worth it!
Here's my dinner plate as I sat down to eat. So much deliciousness. I ate until I was stuffed silly!
I also made a couple of special drinks.
Iran has all sorts of cool unusual refreshing non-alcoholic drinks,
which -- as a non-drinker -- I really appreciate.
This one in the picture is such a special drink, Dried Lime Tea. (recipe here) If you can track down some dried Persian Limes, I cannot recommend this recipe enough. It is completely simple, takes about 10 minutes, and is just extremely delicious and unique. Everyone was raving about it! If you do make it though, I suggest starting with half of the recommended sugar. The whole amount is awfully sweet, and I prefer it with a more delicate sweetness level.
I also made a giant pitcher of Pomegranate Spritzer. It was fresh pomegranate juice from the farmers' market, lime juice, sparkly water, simple syrup, and a few lightly crushed sprigs of fresh mint thrown in the pitcher. So very delicious. I don't have any exact measurements for you, I just sorta kept tasting and adding until it came out the way I liked it.
here's my recipe)
this excellent and clear recipe from My Persian Kitchen.
Mini Persian Biscotti
Recipe based 100% off of the Kitchen Sink Biscotti from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
Makes about 40 mini cookies
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 big pinches of saffron threads
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raw, unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup candied orange peel, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch dice
Preheat your oven to 350 F, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (Don't use your silpat, it doesn't work as well for these cookies)
Add the non-dairy milk to a big bowl. Use your fingertips to crumble the saffron threads into the milk. Add the ground flax and whisk it all together until smooth. Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla, and whisk it until well-combined.
Sift in the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, mix it all together into a smooth dough. Add in the pistachios and candied orange peel and knead them into the dough (either with your hands or with a rubber spatula). Make sure to push any stragglers back into the dough.
Form two logs of dough about 10 inches long by 2 inches wide. Use a rubber spatula to shape the logs nice and smoothly, especially the edges. Place them a few inches apart onto the cookie sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes until the dough is puffed and firm. Take the cookie tray out, turn off the oven, and let the logs cool - for at least 45 minutes. If any parts look too browned, carefully slice them off with a sharp knife.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Very carefully, slide the logs of dough onto a cutting surface. Using a sharp, heavy knife (preferably one with a thinnish blade), slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Be decisive in your chopping action! Gently transfer the cookies to your baking sheet and lay them on their sides. Bake for about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven (but leave the oven on), and carefully flip each cookie over. Return to the oven for another 12-14 minutes, until the cookies look golden and toasty, but not burnt. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.