March 19, 2019

Happy Nowruz 2019! Persian New Year Traditions and Haft Seen Photos

Persian New Year-Nowruz Haft Seen

Nowruz, which translates to "new day" in Persian, is the celebration of the arrival of spring, nature's rebirth, and the new year. This year's sal-e tahvil (vernal equinox) falls on Wednesday, March 20 at 5:58 pm here in New York. This ancient Persian New Year festival dates back to centuries ago and is celebrated by Iranians around the world as well as in countries such as: Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. نوروز  Nowruz is a time of togetherness with family and friends, sitting around sofreh-ye haft seen, feeling grateful and looking forward to what the new year will bring. Following the new year celebration the traditional did-o-bazdid (visiting friends and family) starts and the festivities end on the 13th day of Nowruz which is called sizdah- bedar (getting rid of 13). This day is traditionally spent by having an outdoor picnic and the sabzeh is thrown away into running water, symbolizing the removal of any negativity and misfortune from the home.

Part of preparing for Nowruz involves doing a thorough khaneh tekani (spring cleaning) and tidying the house for mehmoon (guests). A simple yet meaningful quote that I try to remember especially during this time of year is the ancient Zoroastrian teaching: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.

Haft Seen is an essential part of the Nowruz celebration. To set a table or a sofreh (tablecloth) you'll need to gather seven (haft) items that begin with the letter seen (s) in Farsi and each one of these items hold a symbolic meaning. سبزه  Sabzeh - wheat, lentil or mung sprouts need to be germinated a couple of weeks before the sal-e tahvil in order to have a long and green sabzeh.

  1. Sabzeh (sprouts): representing rebirth and rejuvenation
  2. Samanoo (wheat pudding): representing patience
  3. Seeb (apple); representing beauty
  4. Seer (garlic): representing health
  5. Sekeh (coin): representing prosperity
  6. Senjed (oleaster): representing love
  7. Serkeh (vinegar): representing age
In addition to these seven items there should be a mirror (representing reflection), a candle, goldfish (representing life), sumac (representing the spice of life), colored eggs (representing fertility), Hafez's book of poetry, or a prayer book, sweets, sonbol (hyacinth) and other spring flowers.

Nowruz dinner includes sabzi polow (rice and herbs) with mahi (fish), reshteh polow, kookoo sabzi, ash reshteh and dolmeh among many other dishes that might differ from region to region.

Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year
Nowruz-Persian New Year

Sal-e No Mobarak! Happy Nowruz!

January 02, 2019

Esfahani-Style Pancake Recipe, Long-Awaited Trip to Iran and My 10 Year Blogging Anniversary


After many years I went on a long-awaited vacation to Iran with my two daughters. It was an amazing trip with many incredible moments. Our trip was intended to visit our families, see the historic sites and to spark the love of my home country and the rich Iranian culture in my daughters. We visited Esfahan, Shiraz and Tehran over a span of about three weeks and we had quite a packed itinerary exploring these three major cities. It was an experience beyond all expectations. We were warmly greeted by both sides of the family upon arrival and were graciously shown around the beautiful cities.


This blog was born in the early days of December ten years ago when I was trying to find a way to cope with the loss of my mother. It has since brought me much joy and fulfillment and I am glad that it has helped people cook Persian food. I have received many kind and heartfelt letters over the years that I am so grateful for and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.


One of the highlights of our trip was getting to taste new food as well as the old favorites. A new delicious food that we had for the first time was my sister in law's pancakes that she made for breakfast on our very first morning in Esfahan. This ingenious پنکیک pancake is more scrambled eggs than the American pancake and contains more eggs than flour. It's also less time consuming than making pancakes and tastes just as delicious. The entire batter is poured into the pan and cooks slowly on low heat instead of spooning the batter into the hot skillet and making several thin pancakes. Below is Shahnaz khanum's recipe that I tweaked a little.



Esfahani Pancakes - پنکیک اصفهانی 

Ingredients:
Serves 4

4 eggs
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder *optional
1/2 tablespoon sugar *optional
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter

For the topping:
Syrup, honey, grape molasses, fresh fruits or extra butter

Method:

  1. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Add the milk gradually, stirring until well blended.
  3. Beat eggs with a fork or whisk and add to the flour mixture. Combine thoroughly.
  4. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, pour in the batter, and lower the heat.
  5. Cover and cook until the pancake is fluffy and golden brown on the bottom. 
  6. Cut into four equal pieces.
  7. Carefully flip each piece with a spatula, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately. 
Enjoy!

Happy New Year! May 2019 be a happy, healthy and prosperous year for everyone!