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Nowruz Food Celebrations

Nowruz is a Persian festival that marks the beginning of the new year in the Persian calendar, which usually falls on the spring equinox, around March 20 or 21. It is celebrated by millions of people in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and other regions where Persian culture has had an influence.


The name "Nowruz" comes from two Persian words: "now," meaning "new," and "ruz" meaning "day". Nowruz has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the traditions and customs of the region.

Preparations for Nowruz usually begin weeks in advance. People clean their homes, buy new clothes, and cook special dishes. One of the most important preparations is the setting of the "Haft-Seen" table, which is a table set with seven symbolic items that begin with the Persian letter "sin" (س). These items typically include:

Sabzeh (sprouts): symbolizing rebirth and growth

Samanu (sweet pudding): representing wealth and fertility

Senjed (dried fruit): representing love and affection

Seer (garlic): representing health and healing

Seeb (apple): representing beauty and health

Somāq (sumac berries): representing the color of the sunrise

Serkeh (vinegar): representing age and patience

Other items that may be added to the Haft-Seen table include coins, books, candles, and a mirror.

Nowruz celebrations usually last for 13 days, during which people visit family and friends, exchange gifts, and attend public events such as concerts and parades. Traditional Nowruz activities include jumping over bonfires, reciting poetry, and playing music.

Nowruz is a time for renewal and fresh beginnings, as well as a celebration of Persian culture and traditions.

FOODS TO COOK ON NOWROZ FESTIVAL

Nowruz is a time for feasting and celebrating with family and friends. Many traditional foods are prepared during the Nowruz festival. Some of the popular dishes include:

Sabzi Polo ba Mahi: This is a classic Nowruz dish consisting of rice cooked with fresh herbs and served with grilled fish.

Kuku Sabzi: This is a Persian herb frittata made with fresh herbs, eggs, and spices.

Ash Reshteh: This is a hearty soup made with lentils, beans, noodles, and herbs.
Dolmeh Barg-e-Mo: This dish is made with grape leaves stuffed with rice, herbs, and spices.

Fesenjan: This stew is made with pomegranate juice, walnuts, and chicken or lamb.

Shirin Polo: This sweet rice dish has saffron, cinnamon, and raisins.

Sheer Birinj: This creamy rice pudding is made with milk, rice, and sugar.

Halva: This sweet dessert is made with tahini, semolina, and sugar.

In addition to these dishes, many other traditional Persian dishes can be enjoyed during the Nowruz festival. It's a time to celebrate with family and friends, and the food is an important part of the festivities.

NEWROZ KEBABS


Newroz Kebab is a delicious grilled meat dish popular in the Kurdish regions of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. Here is a recipe to make Newroz Kebabs:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb or beef
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4-5 skewers

Instructions:

Combine the ground meat, grated onion, chopped parsley, chopped mint, cumin powder, coriander powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Mix everything well, kneading the mixture with your hands until it is smooth and well combined.

Divide the mixture into 4-5 equal portions and form each around a skewer, pressing the meat firmly onto the skewer to form a long sausage shape.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, place the skewers onto the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the meat is browned and cooked.

Serve the Newroz Kebabs hot, garnished with fresh parsley and mint, and accompanied by rice, salad, or flatbread.
Enjoy your delicious Newroz Kebabs!

SABZI POLO BA MAHI


Sabzi Polo ba Mahi is a traditional Persian dish often prepared for the Nowruz festival. It consists of fragrant rice cooked with fresh herbs and served with grilled fish. Here is a recipe to make Sabzi Polo ba Mahi:

Ingredients:

For the Rice:
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground saffron (optional)
For the Fish:
  • 4 pieces of fish (trout, salmon, or white fish)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for brushing

Instructions:

For the Rice:

Rinse the rice in a large bowl until it is clear, then soak it in cold water for 30 minutes.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot, then add the soaked rice and salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the rice is parboiled, then drain and rinse with cold water.

Mix the chopped fresh herbs, vegetable oil, saffron (if using), and salt in a large bowl.
Add the parboiled rice to the herb mixture and mix well, making sure the herbs are evenly distributed.

In the same pot used to cook the rice, add a little oil to the bottom, then add a layer of the herb rice mixture. Repeat this process, making 3-4 layers.

Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and tender.

For the Fish:

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the fish on each side for 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through.
Serve the grilled fish alongside the Sabzi Polo rice.
Enjoy your delicious Sabzi Polo ba Mahi!

KUKU SABZI


Kuku Sabzi is a popular Persian herb frittata typically served during Nowruz, the Persian New Year. It is made with fresh herbs, eggs, and spices, and can be served warm or at room temperature. Here is a recipe to make Kuku Sabzi:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup chopped green onions or chives
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

Combine the chopped fresh herbs, green onions or chives, and chopped walnuts in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and turmeric, and whisk until smooth.

Add the egg mixture to the herb mixture and stir well to combine.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Pour the herb and egg mixture into the skillet and spread it evenly. Cover the skillet and cook for 10-15 minutes until the bottom is golden brown and the top is set.

Place a large plate over the skillet and carefully invert the Kuku Sabzi onto the plate. Slide the Kuku Sabzi back into the skillet, uncooked side down.

Cook for 10-15 minutes until the other side is golden brown and the egg is fully cooked.
Remove the Kuku Sabzi from the skillet and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Kuku Sabzi can be served as a main dish or as a side dish with bread, salad, or yogurt. Enjoy your delicious Kuku Sabzi!

ASH RESHTEH


Ash Reshteh is a hearty Persian soup that is traditionally served during Nowruz, the Persian New Year. It is made with various beans, herbs, and noodles, and is often topped with fried onions and a dollop of tangy kashk, a type of whey sauce. Here is a recipe to make Ash Reshteh:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup dried lentils, soaked overnight
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup reshteh (Persian noodles) or other thin noodles
  • 1/2 cup kashk (whey sauce)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. dried mint

Instructions:

Drain and rinse the soaked beans and lentils. Add the beans, lentils, and 6 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours, or until the beans and lentils are tender.

In a separate skillet, heat 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until softened.

Add the sautéed onion and garlic to the pot with the beans, lentils, chopped fresh herbs, and spinach. Stir well and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
Add the reshteh noodles to the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.

Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a separate skillet. Add the sliced onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

To serve, ladle the Ash Reshteh into bowls and top with a dollop of kashk, fried onions, and a sprinkle of dried mint.
Enjoy your delicious Ash Reshteh!

DOLMEH BARG-E-MO


Dolmeh Barg-e-Mo is a traditional Persian stuffed grape leaves dish that is often served during special occasions and festivals such as Nowruz, the Persian New Year. It is made with a filling of ground lamb, rice, and herbs, and is wrapped in tender grape leaves. Here is a recipe to make Dolmeh Barg-e-Mo:

Ingredients:
  • 1 jar of preserved grape leaves (approximately 60 leaves)
  • 1 lb. ground lamb or beef
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions or green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. dried mint
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Instructions:

Rinse the grape leaves thoroughly with cold water to remove excess salt or brine. Lay them on a clean surface and dry them with a paper towel.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground lamb or beef, rice, chopped onion, fresh herbs, chopped walnuts, tomato paste, dried mint, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, allspice, and cardamom. Mix well with your hands or a spoon.

Take one grape leaf at a time and place it shiny side down on a flat surface. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of the leaf. Fold the bottom of the leaf up over the filling, then fold in the sides, and roll tightly to the top. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.

In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Place the stuffed grape leaves in the pot in layers, packing them tightly together. Add enough water to cover the grape leaves, along with the lemon juice.

Place a plate upside down on top of the grape leaves to weigh them and prevent them from floating to the surface. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1-1.5 hours, or until the grape leaves are tender and the filling is cooked through.

Remove the plate from the pot and let the grape leaves cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges and yogurt on the side, if desired.
Enjoy your delicious Dolmeh Barg-e-Mo!

FESENJAN


Fesenjan, also known as Khoresht Fesenjan, is a traditional Persian stew made with chicken or duck, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. It is a popular dish for special occasions such as weddings, parties, and festivals. Here is a recipe to make Fesenjan:

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups walnuts, finely ground
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions:

Season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Heat some vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the chicken thighs and brown them on both sides until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add the ground walnuts and continue to sauté for another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in the chicken broth and pomegranate molasses, and stir well to combine. Add the sugar, cinnamon, turmeric, and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the browned chicken thighs back into the pot, ensuring the sauce completely covers them. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until the chicken is tender and cooked.

Serve the Fesenjan hot with steamed rice. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.
Enjoy your delicious Fesenjan!

SHIRIN POLO


Shirin Polo, also known as Persian Sweet Rice, is a delicious and aromatic dish that is often served during special occasions and festivals such as weddings and Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Here is a recipe to make Shirin Polo:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in water for at least 2 hours
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup slivered pistachios
  • 1/2 cup slivered orange peel
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground saffron (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. rosewater
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups water

Instructions:

Drain the soaked rice and rinse it with cold water until it clears. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the rice and cook for about 6-7 minutes or until it is slightly tender. Drain the rice and set it aside.

In the same pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden brown.

Add the slivered almonds, pistachios, orange peel, and sauté for another 3-4 minutes until lightly toasted.

Add the raisins, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground saffron (if using), sugar, rosewater, salt, and black pepper. Stir well to combine.

Add the cooked rice to the pot and stir gently to combine with the onion and nut mixture.
Cover the pot with a lid and place a clean kitchen towel over the lid. This will help to absorb any excess moisture and prevent the rice from sticking to the lid.

Reduce the heat to low and let the rice steam for about 30-40 minutes or until it is fully cooked and fluffy.

If desired, serve the Shirin Polo hot, garnished with additional slivered nuts and orange peel.
Enjoy your delicious Shirin Polo!

SHEER BIRINJ


Sheer Birinj, also known as Persian rice pudding, is a delicious and creamy dessert commonly served in Persian cuisine. Here is a recipe to make Sheer Birinj.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rose water
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

Rinse the rice with cold water and drain it. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice to the boiling water and cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until it is slightly tender. Drain the rice and set aside.

Bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat in a large pot. Add the cooked rice and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is completely soft and the mixture has thickened.

Add the sugar, rose water, slivered almonds, chopped pistachios, raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots, cardamom, and salt to the pot. Stir well to combine and let the mixture cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency.

Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Spoon the Sheer Birinj into individual serving dishes or a large bowl. Garnish with additional slivered almonds, chopped pistachios, and dried fruit, if desired.

Chill the Sheer Birinj in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.
Enjoy your delicious Sheer Birinj!

HALVA


Halva is a sweet dessert popular in Persian and other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It is made from a combination of tahini (ground sesame paste) and sugar, sometimes including other ingredients such as nuts or spices. Here is a recipe to make Halva:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tahini (well-stirred)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)

Instructions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the tahini and sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and shiny.

Add the water to the pot and stir well to combine. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened and starts pulling away from the pot's sides.

If you want to add cinnamon or other spices, add them to the mixture and stir well to combine.

Pour the Halva into a greased dish or container, and smooth out the surface with a spatula. If you want to add slivered almonds or other nuts, sprinkle them on the Halva.

Allow the Halva to cool to room temperature, then chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
Once the Halva is chilled and firm, cut it into pieces or slices and serve.

Enjoy your delicious Halva!

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