Sunday, March 21, 2021

NoRooz Mobarak!

NoRooz Mobarak!!

Happy Persian New Year! Happy Springtime!  Nothing like my favorite holiday of the whole year to pull me back to the blogosphere... NoRooz is celebrated on the vernal equinox, and last year, it arrived just about 10 days after we had closed down our yoga studio and the fear and newness of Covid restrictions were at a peak. With a heavy heart, I emailed everyone and cancelled our NoRooz party. We all agreed. It was, as you know, the first of many cancellations! 

I was so wiped out last year, I didn't make a single special dish, and I didn't even set up my Haft Sin table. This year, I was feeling better - and I so grew my sprouts from lentils and set up my beautiful table (and moved it outside for our gathering)... just this act made me feel so happy and festive. It's amazing how traditions take on so much meaning over the years. 

me showing off the table of food and explaining the dishes to everyone

This year, one year later, we bravely decided to gather a small group for a backyard celebration. I can't even tell you how much this meant to me - the joy of anticipation and planning, the joy of cooking for people I love, the joy of togetherness! Having to cancel last year's gathering made this year's downsized event all the sweeter. 

There are some very special people who I love and who are so important to me that I didn't get to invite this year. Our backyard isn't tiny, but 8 is about a covid-safe max. I really look forward to next year - when hopefully I can return to invite people with wild abandon!!! 

The weather just *barely* cooperated - we had a few sprinkles, and some wind gusts, but by later in the afternoon the sun was out. A perfect first day of spring! 

Kuku Sabzi

Oh my goodness, these guys are SO DELICIOUS. Seriously, everyone needs to know about this recipe - such incredibly interesting and lovely flavors.

Traditionally, kuku sabzi is an eggy omelette, mixed with bajillions of fresh herbs. Over the years I've veganized it lots of ways. My recipe can be found here - this year I made an important change: I left out the water!! This was a big improvement as far as cooking time and texture. Also, I cooked them in my muffin tin with silicon muffin cups, which made it MUCH easier to get them out of the muffin tray (after cooling for a few minutes). This is definitely the way to do it! 

NoRooz dishes are often brimming with herbs (parsley, cilantro, chives, spinach, fenugreek, dill, leeks...), which are not only delicious and nutritious, but symbolize all the green growth of springtime! The meaning and beauty behind the symbols of NoRooz is so beautiful and life-affirming. This is why it's such a beloved holiday for me.

Cheese Platters

This year I made a *concerted effort* not to over-commit with this little gathering... and actually I was successful, because I had plenty of time to get everything ready before my guests arrived. However, that did mean that I had to somewhat compromise on my usual NoRooz tendencies - I used store-bought bread and store-bought vegan cheese!! GASP. My loving guests forgave me.

In the interest of keeping everything as covid-safe as possible, I made the cheese into little single-serve nuggets. I bought Treeline Cheese (so good!) and used my melon baller to make mini-balls. Then I rolled these in a mix of parsley, mint, and chopped walnuts. They were great! 

Shirazi Salad

Just the basics and they can't be beat! Lucky me to live in the land of amazing produce - I zipped out of the house at 7:30am and nabbed these *perfect* organic tomatoes and cucumbers straight from the farmers market. What a blessing. I added some red onion, and a simple dressing made with olive oil, pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar, and lime juice. You can't tell here, but this was a HUGE salad. 

If Mr. VE&T had a top-5 foods list, "tomato-cucumber salad" would be near the top. He loves salads like this, and he single-handled polished off all the salad that was left at the end of the day! 

Aash-e Restheh

Oooooh, this soup is so good and so packed with flavors. One of the great things about Persian New Year is that the food is actually quite healthy - so you aren't left feeling blotto afterwards. This amazing and traditional soup is super-simple to veganize by using veggie broth (that's all it takes!). You can find my recipe here. It's got beans and lentils and spinach and beets and noodles and loads of herbs, and it's absolutely delicious. This is one of the dishes that I most look forward to every year. It takes a good 2-3 hours to make, but since I'm always in the kitchen doing a vast array of NoRooz cooking, it's no trouble at all. I love the aroma as the whole house starts to smell like herbs and turmeric and onions... 

Garnish for the soup

Speaking of which... this is the *amazing* garnish that goes with Aash-e Reshteh: it's onions sliced verrrrrrrry thinly, cooked down and cooked down and cooked down, and then with dried turmeric and dried mint mixed in, and then cooked some more. Oooooooh it's just an incredible flavor BLAST.

I always make a lot so that my beloved friend Jasmine and I don't have to fight over it. Ha ha. 

Sabzi Polow

I'm sure you've heard of Persian rice, and especially of Tahdig - the magical crunchy crust at the bottom of the pot. Let's just say that Persians seriously figured out how to make rice!!! It's more complicated than "throw it in a pot!," but the results are so totes worth it. Sabzi Polow is mixed full of herbs (with just the bottom level left herb-free). I wished I had gotten a *little* bit more of a golden glow on my tahdig, but all in all, I was pleased with this year's polow! There's always a heart-stopping moment-of-truth when you flip your rice pot over onto the serving platter - hoping for a good golden crust and no burnt bits! It's very exciting! You can find my recipe here

Eggplant Pickle by my cousin Bruce! 

Wow! How special to receive a very lovely jar of homemade Eggplant pickle made by my cousin Bruce up in Portland. I don't think I've ever actually celebrated NoRooz with Brucie (maybe someday???) - but Bruce and his sister Eliza and their parents lived in Iran for several years before the Iranian Revolution, and they all still speak some Farsi and have many beloved Iranian friends. That side of my family were the first people to introduce me to Iranian culture. 

This pickle had special instructions "don't use before the vernal equinox!" - I love that! I was very dutiful, and saved it for NoRooz. I love trying pickles of the world - and this was a great condiment with our meal! Very special. Thank you Bruce! 


I made two quick-and-easy pitchers of Limeade: using a simple syrup made with coconut sugar (thus the lovely dark amber color), fizzy water, and lime juice (from our lime trees) - added in some fresh mint leaves and lime slices for extra pizzazz. That super fancy and ornate pitcher came from my dad's grandmother in North Carolina. She had very ornate taste! I don't get to pull it out all that often, for obvious reasons... so it's fun to get it out and put it to use! 

My plate full of goooooooodness

Ahhhhh. So many delicious and magical and beloved flavors all on one plate. 
I even busted out my cloth napkins, which were sadly rumpled after one whole year of no entertaining.
ha ha

Sweeties Platter!!

Of course you need lots of sweeties for Persian New Year, and it's impossible to pick just one! This year I practiced incredible self-restraint by only making four sweeties. Amazing, right?

Here you have:

Sohan As-Ali - a wonderful almond brittle candy made with rosewater and saffron and then sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Oh my goodness I love these candies so much. Over the years I have gotten better and better at making these - I used to experience so much stress and anxiety every time!! ha ha. If you've ever tried your hand at candy-making, I think you probably know what I mean. I've figured out the drill and also finally bought a digital candy thermometer, which definitely helps!  Just writing about these lil babies made me get up and go eat one of the few that we have leftover. Ahhh. 

Tut - the little oval ones are marzipans made with almonds, icing sugar, and rosewater, then rolled in sugar and with a little pistachio "stem" poked in at one end. They are meant to resemble mulberries. These candies are so extremely simple to make (if you used pre-ground almond meal, you wouldn't even need a food processor), and they are extremely delicious. Not too sweet, but entirely satisfying. 

Nane-NokhodchiThe little golden cookies are made with chickpea flour, cardamom, and rosewater. Mine were a little "spready" this year, but the flavor was delicious. I think these ones are especially good the next day! 

Mini-Key Lime Pies!

Wait! Mini-Key Pies don't sound very Persian!!!??? You're right! However, key lime pie is a traditional part of *our family's celebration*, because my dad's birthday is today (March 21st). Key Lime Pie is one of his very favorite treats. Instead of making one beautiful pie like I usually do, I went for single serve, covid-safe, mini pies!

(bonus Shaggy Chunko sighting in the background. He follows me everywhere! He could literally be in every picture I took if I just zoomed out a little. ha ha)

Birthday Boy! and my Momsie!

Today my dad is 84 years old, and just got his second vaccine this week. Wooo! My mom is all vaxxed up and once my dad's 2-week post-vaccination wait is over, I'm gonna give that guy a big ol' hug!! 

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful and perfect NoRooz - a sweet vibe with everyone feeling so grateful to be together and to have an opportunity to recognize the new year and appreciate the fresh energy and beauty of spring time. I hope you're doing okay out there, and that you can find a little way to mark the arrival of spring. <3 

p.s. One good thing about entertaining outside is that no one can see that your kitchen looks like a BOMB went off. ha ha ha Oh Lordy, it took me a good few hours to do all the dishes and get the kitchen back in working order after all of that! 



  1. How fun! It looks like a lovely afternoon with delicious food. I got a kick out of reading it. It must be torture for you to have not been able to entertain this year.

    1. I really really miss entertaining!!!! you know how much I love it!

  2. This post makes me so happy! I am so glad you got to celebrate this year, even if it was a little smaller than usual. Happy birthday to your dad as well.

    1. Thank you!! Yes, ANY celebration is one hundred percent better than no celebration at all!!

  3. Yay!! I'm so happy to see a new post coming from you, and of course, this is my favorite one of the year... It's up there with the rainbow party & holiday zine announcement. :D It brings me some peace seeing so much joy & spring bounty by way of your NoRooz celebration. Long distance hugs to you!

    1. Long distance hugs back to you!! I pledge to make more posts!!!

  4. Autumn10:34 AM

    Oh man, this looks so tasty! My mouth is watering. I might make this a tradition in our little family too. I love celebrating the start of a new season. And I'm with Mr. VE&T, tomato & cuke salads are heavenly!

    1. DO IT! I think NoRooz is SUCH a beautiful and meaningful holiday. It deserves much more recognition and appreciation !

  5. hurrah!! I'm so happy you got to have your celebration this year, I definitely missed it last year and I know you did too. Your great grandma's pitcher looks like so much fun! Every year I see your post and get so excited to make my own Sabzi Polow but then I get too scared. I'll try to get up the courage this spring!

    1. Give Sabzi Polow a try!!! It's not that hard!! I promise! message me if you need moral support!

  6. Welcome back to the blogging world- we've missed you! I always love your holiday posts. Everything looks delicious and festive as usual. Your dad and I share a birthday- glad to see he's doing so well.

    1. Thank you for such a sweet comment Jenny! I feel glad to be back! And happy birthday!! I love that you and my dad have the same bday. Awww.


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