March 22, 2013

Haft Seen Photos - Eid-e Nowruz!

Persian New Year Celebration

Happy Nowruz (Persian New Year) everyone and welcome to 1392 of the Iranian calendar. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I have written about Nowruz in the past and photographed every *seen* (s) on the haft seen table. I truly enjoy setting up the haft seen table as I try to seize the moment contemplating the symbolic meaning behind each item and to take in the positive energy that surrounds this uplifting ambiance. This is the moment to count our blessings and with every blessing comes the responsibility of giving back, even if it's very little.

سنبل - Sonbol (hyacinth) and other spring flowers 

                                       سبزهSabzeh (sprouts): Representing rebirth and fertility

 سنجد - Senjed (Dried Fruit of the Lotus Tree): Representing love

سماق - Somagh (Sumac): Representing the spice of life

سیر - Seer (Garlic): To ward off bad omens

سکه  - Sekkeh (Coins): Representing wealth and prosperity

سمنو - Samanoo (Sweet Pudding made with germinated wheat): Representing the reward of patience 

سرکه - Serkeh (Vinegar): Representing age 

ماهی قرمز - Mahi Ghermez (Goldfish): Representing life

سیب - Seeb (Apple): Representing natural beauty

نارنج / پرتقال (Seville orange) or orange in Water: Representing the earth floating in space 

تخم مرغ رنگی - Tokhme Morgh Rangi (painted eggs): Representing Fertility 

And here's a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the challenges of food photography starring Cooper, my daughter's cat.

Well, there goes my sabzeh!

Nowruz Mobarak! Happy Spring!

March 17, 2013

Badam Sookhteh - Persian Candied Almonds

It's that time of the year again for setting up the haft-seen table with the gorgeously displayed seven S's, lush green sabzeh, colorful hyacinth bulbs, forever beautiful tulips or any other types of spring flowers, fresh fruits, ajil (trail-mix) and delicious traditional sweets. Memories of past Nowruz celebrations are precious, from shopping for new clothes, receiving eidy (money from elders in the family), did-o-bazdid (visiting family and friends) and of course being off for 13 days from school. The Nowruz sweets were simply unforgettable and I liked them all.  One of those goodies, which was a favorite of mine growing up, is بادام سوخته badam sookhteh. I can't imagine life without badam (almonds). They can be enjoyed all year long for any occasion mixed with other nuts and seeds in ajil, or be transformed into a delicious concoction such as toot (marzipan). This recipe makes a wonderful crunchy addition to the array of home-made Nowruz confections.

Nowruz is also the time for us to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves from inside out and to do a little khaneh tekani (house cleaning) and let go of the grudges and toxic old ways that hold us back. May the generosity and the flourishing nature of Nowruz (new day) and fasl-e bahar (spring season) change and transform our hearts for the better.

Badam Sookhteh - Persian Candied Almonds


3 cups raw whole almonds
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons honey (I used clover honey)
1 cup water
1/3 cup lime juice (if you want to make it more sour add more fresh lime juice)
A dash of salt

  1. In a medium-sized pan, combine sugar, honey, salt and water over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture thickens up a bit.
  2. Add almonds and stir well until they are evenly coated. 
  3. Place a colander into a large saucepan and empty the content of the pan and strain the sugar honey mixture through the colander. 
  4. Add the lime juice to the left over syrupy mixture in the saucepan over medium heat. Add the almonds back to the saucepan over medium-low heat stirring well until almonds are evenly coated again.
  5.  To achieve a darker caramelized color, keep stirring a few minutes longer but make sure they don't burn. I wouldn't go for that sookhteh (burnt) look. Once the almonds are fully caramelized remove from heat and transfer quickly into a baking sheet with parchment paper. You may sprinkle a little white granulated sugar cinnamon on top if you like.
  6. Separate the almonds with a spoon and cool completely.
To serve place badam sookhteh in small bowls or as clusters in little cupcake liners.

Enjoy! Happy Nowruz! Happy Spring!