March 19, 2016

Haft Seen Photos Nowruz 2016

Persian New Year Celebration

It's Nowruz and it's nature's time for renewal and rejuvenation. I wish you and your family a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year filled with joy and love. To continue my annual tradition of sharing photos of our haft seen table, here are pictures of the sofreh (the spread of seven S's) representing a symbolic meaning such as rebirth, patience, beauty, health, prosperity and love.

Sabzeh o Sonbol: Representing rebirth and spring

Senjed: Representing love

Somagh: Representing the spice of life

Seer: Representing health

Samanoo: Representing Patience 

Seeb: Representing beauty

Serkeh: Representing age 

Mahi Germez: Representing life

Noghl: Sweets

Poems from the Divan of Hafez

Cooper loves flowers

Beautiful haft seen table by my friend Farzaneh joon

My friend Roya joon's Sofreh haft seen 

An old picture of Khanoum joon, my maternal grandmother, at her haft seen spread circa 1960 in Tehran

Eidetoon Mobarak! Happy Nowruz! Happy Spring!

March 17, 2016

Quick & Easy Shirini Zaban - Zaban Puff Pastry (Nowruz 1395)

The air is thick with excitement in anticipation of نوروز - Nowruz. Preparation for Persian New Year starts weeks before the spring equinox with khaneh tekany (spring cleaning) and growing sabzeh (seeds) for the haft seen table. It has been many years since I have lived in my home country. Yet all it takes is a smell or a taste to bring even those long forgotten memories back into my mind's eyes. The Persian New Year celebration gives me a chance to relive those many memories of family, togetherness, the haftseen spread, and celebrations.

It's time to start thinking about the Nowruz dinner menu. The Nowruz dinner is marked by a number of traditional dishes that are known for this occasion such as: kookoo sabzi, sabzi polow, mahi, ash reshteh, reshteh polow, etc. I have put together a typical Nowruz menu of my favorite recipes.

There are many different Nowruz sweets available in bakeries all over Iran. However, if you happen to live where you do not have access to any of those good Iranian bakeries then, like me, you would have to make your own homemade Nowruz desserts. The sugar sprinkled, golden, light and flaky شیرینی زبان shirini zaban (زبان - zaban means tongue in Persian) is a connection to my childhood -- when I remember having them for special occasions. For this recipe you'll need one sheet of puff pastry. If you have the time and patience you can make your own homemade puff pastry from scratch. However, if you find that to be too time-consuming then head to the freezer section of your local grocery store and buy a Package of frozen puff pastry. While there's nothing like a homemade pastry, I took the easy route this time and used a store-bought frozen puff pastry.

Shirini Zaban with Frozen Puff Pastry 

Yield: 20 pieces

1 (14-ounce) box of frozen puff pastry, thawed  (I used Dufour puff pastry)
1-2 tablespoons sugar

For the syrup

1/3 cup honey ( I used clover honey)
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon rosewater

Flour for dusting the surface
Crushed pistachios and  powdered sugar for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the honey with water and rosewater, mix well. Set aside.
  4. Unfold the puff pastry on your lightly floured counter and dust the top of the pastry with a little flour. 
  5. Using a soft pastry brush, lightly brush the pastry with honey syrup.
  6. Using a cookie cutter cut out the pastry into zaban shape or using a sharp blade cut the pastry into rectangular pieces.
  7. Place the cut out puff pastries on the baking sheet leaving a little space between them.
  8. Using a knife make a lengthwise light cut through the center of each zaban.
  9. Sprinkle each zaban generously with sugar.
  10. Place the sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden, cooked through and puffed.
  11. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  12. Apply another light film of honey syrup over the pastries. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Serve with freshly brewed hot tea.

Enjoy! Happy Nowruz!