Haft Seen Table - Nowruz 2018!

Persian New Year Celebration

Persian New Year (Spring equinox) has officially arrived! It doesn't quite feel like it where I live since it is still cold and the flowers have yet to bloom but I remember how the warmth of spring should feel, with the fresh emerald green grass covering the ground and vibrant flowers everywhere. I am grateful that I had experienced Nowruz back home in Iran where I grew up. The excitement and enthusiasm that I felt celebrating Eid-e Nowruz in Iran has stayed with me all these years and inspires me to recreate what I have learned and to share it with my family and all of you! Let's celebrate the renewal and the rejuvenation of nature with our loved ones and set the Haft Seen table with items representing health, prosperity, rebirth, fertility, beauty, light and love.

Sabzeh symbolizes rebirth and spring
Seeb (apple) symbolizes beauty
Senjed symbolizes love
Somagh (sumac) symbolizes the spice of life
Seer (garlic) symbolizes health and to ward off bad omens
Samanoo (wheat pudding) symbolizes the reward of patience
 Serkeh (vinegar) symbolizes age
Tokhm-e Morgh Rangi (Colorful Eggs) symbolizes fertility
Mahi Ghermez (Goldfish) symbolizes life
Candle symbolizes Light
Spring Flowers
Ayneh (mirror) symbolizes reflection
Divan-e Hafez

Happy Nowruz! Happy Spring!سال نو مبارک 

Khagineh - Iranian Sweet Omelette from Sofreh At'ameh - A Qajar Dynasty Cookbook


I recently received a copy of سفره اطعمه Sofreh At'ameh, a delightful cookbook written in 1881 by Mirza Ali Akbar Khan Kashani, the royal head chef to the court of ناصرالدین شاه قاجار  Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831-1896), the fourth king of the Qajar dynasty. The French Dr. Joseph Desire Tholozan was the chief physician to the king for more than 30 years. He asked the آشپزباشی ashpazbashi (chef) of the royal court to put together a guide detailing the king's diet, eating habits, and his typical daily menu, in an effort to be able to serve him better. Sofreh At'ameh is filled with bits and pieces of information that gives one a glimpse into the past. This book is a compilation of recipes, ingredients, and virtually everything that was served in the royal palace for breakfast, lunch and dinner including sharbats (sweet drinks), khoresh (stew), ash (soup), polow (rice), moraba (jam), and torshi (pickles).


Naser al-Din Shah Qajar
Joseph DésiréTholozan



There are many timeless recipes in this book that I think most Iranians know by heart as well as new recipes that are definitely worth trying. There are also a few dishes that I had forgotten about and reading this book helped refresh my memory. One of those recipes was خاگینه khagineh. I remember Maman serving a delicious fluffy sweet omelette that could also be eaten as a dessert. Back then I never thought to ask her how she made it and the recipe never made it into my handwritten recipe journal. Yet, when I saw it in the book I knew I had to make it. However, like many old cookbooks most of the recipes in this book lack exact measurements. Therefore, the following is my adaptation of its khagineh recipe. 


Khagineh - Sweet Omelette
Adapted from Sofreh At'ameh 

Ingredients:
Serves 2

3 large eggs
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons butter
A little dash of salt *optional

Sugar Syrup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch ground cardamom
Pinch ground saffron

Method

  1. In a small pot, combine water and sugar, bring water to a boil, over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Add the cardamom and saffron. Stir well and let simmer  uncovered on low heat for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs until smooth.
  3. Add in the flour and mix well.
  4. In a a nonstick skillet heat the butter over medium heat until it has melted. Pour in the egg mixture all at once. Cook over low heat for about 2 minutes or until eggs are almost set but not hard and gently flip the eggs using a thin spatula and cook for another two minutes. Slice the eggs and slowly pour the syrup over the eggs and cook for another minute or until the syrup is fully absorbed. You may use other sweeteners such as honey or grape molasses. 
Transfer onto a platter and serve warm or at room temperature. I added a tiny pinch of dried, crushed rose petals and a little powdered sugar, for dusting.

*Historical Cookbook recipes:

Borani Kangar-Yogurt and Cardoon Dip - A Qajar Era Recipe
Sholeh Maash - Green Mung Bean and Kohlrabi Soup - A Qajar Era Recipe
Ash-e Jo - Barley Soup with Spinach and Cilantro -A Safavid Era Recipe

Enjoy!

Yalda Night Celebration - 2017

شب عاشقان بیدل چه شبی دراز باشد     تو بیا کز اول شب در صبح باز باشد 
~سعدی
شب یلدا Shab-e yalda or شب چله shab-e chelleh (winter solstice) is here. The Iranian celebration of yalda (December 20-21) starts on the eve of the last sunset of the last day of autumn. The yalda festivities proceed into the night and it officially ends at the sight of the first sunrise of the first day of winter. Shab-e yalda is the longest night of the year and it is followed by the shortest day of the year. Then the days start to get longer which marks the victory of light over darkness and the birth of Mithra (the Sun God) according to ancient Persian tradition dating back thousands of years. Today, Yalda celebration centers around family gatherings, Hafez khani (reading the poetry by Hafez of Shiraz), storytelling, music, and eating fruits, nuts and sweets.


Growing up, celebrating shab-e yalda wasn't about preparing an elaborate meal. My mother always had the yalda spread on our dining room table and on it was winter watermelon, pomegranate, پسته pesteh (pistachios),  بادام badam (almonds), برگه زردآلو bargeh zard-aloo (dried apricot), انجیر anjir (figs), and تخمه tokhmeh (seeds). Another Yalda tradition is reading Hafez which was a daily ritual in our home. This was my mother's way of passing on tradition and teaching us the importance of our culture.

!شب یلداتون مبارک
Happy Shab-e Yalda!