salad olivieh • سالاد الويه

recipes, Uncategorized

salad olivieh is a persian take on the Salad Olivier made popular in Moscow by French chef M. Olivier.

it’s a chicken/potato salad, with a few other interesting ingredients (read: pickles), combined together in mayonnaise. it’s a popular dish for picnics and parties, and while it requires a lot of chopping and mixing, it’s a fairly easy dish to create! one suggestion is to make it the day before to allow everything to settle well. whip up a batch of this, and serve with persian breads, or with pita chips, or just eat it plain–can’t really go wrong!

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recipe:

ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless
  • 5 large russet potatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 onion
  • 10 oz pack of green peas, defrosted
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 small jar of baby dill pickles (we use Trader Joe’s version) + pickle juice
  • 2 limes
  • one medium jar of mayonnaise (organic tastes better i think, but it really doesn’t matter!) + more for garnish/if the salad is too dry

instructions:

  • slice the onion into thick slices and place in a pan
  • add salt and pepper to the chicken and layer over the onion, add a tablespoon of water to the pan, cover and cook on medium until chicken is cooked through
  • boil the potatoes, unpeeled, until tender (don’t overcook)
  • steam the carrots until just tender (do not let them get too soft)
  • place eggs in cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and cover. let sit for 10 minutes
  • shred the cooled chicken and then chop into tiny pieces, add to a large bowl
  • add the defrosted peas to the bowl
  • peel the cooked potatoes, and dice, then add to the bowl
  • dice the eggs, carrots, and pickles in a small dice, add to the bowl
  • add the mayonnaise to the bowl
  • pour half of the remaining pickle juice and the juice of one or two limes into the mayonnaise jar, shake vigorously until all of the mayonnaise has come loose and pour over the bowl
  • add salt and pepper to taste, and mix well
  • put in fridge overnight, if it’s not creamy enough the next day add more mayonnaise (should be like greek yogurt consistency) and more lime or salt if necessary
  • place it in your serving dish and spoon a thin layer of mayonnaise on top to create a smooth finish. garnish with olives, parsley, tomatoes, etc.

 

 

 

 

xx.

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ghormeh s a b z i • قورمه سبزی

recipes, Uncategorized

ghormeh sabzi, an herb and meat stew, is an incredibly popular dish in iranian cuisine, and honestly one of my favorites. i’m always curious how non-iranians perceive this dish, but i’ve never met a soul who didn’t love ghormeh sabzi.

as with most persian dishes, it takes a while to cook and this one definitely is better if made ahead by a day, or even two. let it sit in the fridge and it will all come together nicely!

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recipe:

ingredients:

  • 1 cup fenugreek, chopped (or ½ cup if using dried fenugreek)
  • 3 cups parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups “tareh” (an herb similar to leeks, can be found in persian/asian markets) OR the green portion of scallions, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped (optional)
  • 2 lbs cubed stew meat
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans, strained
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 dried persian limes (have more on hand just in case)
  • 5 quarts water

 

instructions:

  • chop all of the herbs very finely and sauté in vegetable oil until dehydrated (they should no longer be clumpy, and be dark green in color)
  • place the cubed meat in a bowl and pour cool water over it, let sit for a few minutes and drain. repeat 2x until meat is a light color, drain again.
  • saute the grated onion in enough vegetable oil to just coat the bottom of a 7-quart pot
  • when the onion is translucent, add the turmeric and stir. then add the meat
  • once the meat is seared on all sides, add the sautéed herbs to the pot and cover with 5 quarts of cold water
  • add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper and cover the pot
  • bring to a boil then immediately lower to a simmer
  • cook the stew for an hour
  • in the meantime, puncture the dried limes 2-3 times each and place in a bowl of water to soak
  • after the stew cooks for an hour, add the limes
  • after 30 more minutes, add the kidney beans
  • continue to cook on a simmer for another hour until a layer of oil forms on the top of the stew. when stirring, the herbs and the water should be well combined and not separated–basically it should not be very watery!
  • serve with rice

 

notes:

  • if it’s too watery, taking the lid off and allowing it to cook a bit more will help
  • if making it in advance, you can leave it out of the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, then place it in the fridge until you’re ready to re-heat and serve
  • taste the stew as it’s cooking–add some salt and pepper if needed, and if it doesn’t have any sourness to it, add another lime or two

 

xx.

persian b a k l a v a • باقلوا

norooz, recipes, Uncategorized

baklava (or baghlava, as we call it) is a fan favorite for the Persian New Year (Norooz)–or any time really! a mixture of pistachios and almonds and rosewater and a hint of saffron make these so delicious they may not last too long…

overall, they’re not difficult to make but do require a lot of patience and diligence. the recipe below (adapted from here) is what i use when i’m making them for the new year party–read: a lotttt of people. so feel free to halve the recipe if you want a smaller batch!

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recipe:

ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw pistachios
  • 1 lb. peeled almonds
  • ½ lb. confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 package phyllo dough, thawed (i use roughly 20 sheets measuring 14×18 inches, so if the phyllo you buy is smaller–buy more!)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (have more on hand if you want it sweeter)
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, melted

for the syrup:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup rosewater
  • ⅛ teaspoon saffron

 

  • 1 half sheet pan (roughly 12x17x1)

 

instructions:

  • in a food processor, finely grind the almonds with the confectioner’s sugar until powdery. transfer to a bowl or freezer bag
  • grind the pistachios until a very fine texture, no coarse pieces. reserve about 2 tablespoons for garnish and add the rest to the almonds
  • mix the nuts and the cardamom together well, and add the granulated sugar (i recommend adding the tablespoons one at a time to test the sweetness, and add more or less than 2 tablespoons per your preference)

 

  • in a large sauce pan, stir the sugar and water until the sugar completely dissolves (about 10 – 15 minutes)
  • after the sugar dissolves, add the saffron and continue to stir for another few minutes
  • remove the syrup from the heat, add the rosewater and allow it to cool

 

  • pre-heat the oven to 350*F
  • brush the inside of your half sheet pan with butter and add the first layer of phyllo
  • brush the phyllo with butter, and add more phyllo
  • continue this until you have 5 layers of phyllo
  • add a layer of the nut mixture, generously covering the whole sheet and getting into the corners
  • pat down the nuts to make them slightly compact
  • add 5 more layers of phyllo (buttering each one)
  • add another layer of nuts
  • add another 5 layers of phyllo and butter, then one final layer of nuts
  • top the last layer of nuts off with 5 more layers of phyllo and butter between each layer and on the top layer
  • allow the top layer of butter to harden slightly to facilitated cutting
  • with a sharp paring knife, cut the baklava into squares or diamond shapes (easier in my opinion)

 

  • place pan in heated oven and bake until the top layer is golden
  • turn off oven and remove pan, pour half of the syrup over the baklava and place back into the off oven for 5 – 10 minutes
  • remove the baklava and pour the remaining syrup over it
  • garnish with reserved pistachio and rosebuds (can be found in a lot of middle eastern markets)
  • serve same day, or even a week later–it keeps well when wrapped well and placed in the fridge, just let it come to room temperature before serving

 

xx.

t a h c h i n • ته چین

recipes, Uncategorized

i’m not sure how this recipe wasn’t my first post on this blog, as it’s one of my favorites to make (and eat!)

i remember always referring to this as a rice “cake” when i was younger, because of the way it comes out with a flawless, golden crust (tahdig) and (at least in our house) in the shape of a sheet cake! the yogurt and eggs in this recipe bind the rice together to give it a fluffy texture, and bits of chicken (or beef, or eggplant, or nothing if you prefer!) in the middle make it a delicious dish. top it off with some barberries (zereshk) or sliced pistachios or almonds to make it pretty and delicious!

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recipe:

ingredients:

  • 3 cups basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in salty water
  • 7 – 8 chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced in thick rings
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron, (dissolve ⅛ in hot water for rice mixture, and ⅛ in hot water for chicken)
  • Whole milk yogurt (I used Trader Joe’s European Style or Stonyfield Plain)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil + more for coating the pan
  • 3 eggs — 2 yolks and 1 whole egg

instructions:

  • rinse rice until water runs practically clear, and then soak in a bowl of well salted water for at least 1 – 2 hours (the longer it soaks, the longer the grain of rice will be)
  • slice onion into large rings and line a large pan with the onions
  • rub chicken with salt and pepper, and lay on top of onion slices
  • pour one of the dissolved saffron mixtures over the chicken, close the lid of the pan
  • cook chicken on low, slowly increasing the heat until the chicken is cooked through (i recommend flipping the chicken halfway through and making sure the saffron liquid in the pan gets on both sides of the chicken to give it a nice color!)
  • set the chicken aside to cool, strain and reserve the liquid from the pan for later
  • once chicken has rested/cooled a bit, cut into small strips

 

  • fill a large pot halfway with water with some salt and bring to a boil
  • once boiling, pour the water from the rice (water only!!) into the boiling water and bring the whole thing back to a boil
  • add the rice to the boiling water, give it a quick and gentle stir to loosen any rice from the bottom of the pot
  • once the rice begins to float to the top, test a grain or two to check that it is al dente, then strain the rice and set aside

 

  • in a large bowl, combine the yogurt, saffron mixture, eggs, salt and pepper, and oil
  • add ⅔ of a cup of the reserved liquid from the chicken to the yogurt mixture
  • once the mixture is well-combined, slowly and gently fold in the rice (i suggest folding in sections of the rice, and not the whole pot at once)
  • IF THE RICE IS STILL HOT be sure to add it slowly to the yogurt to avoid getting scrambled eggs!

 

  • preheat oven to 400*F
  • coat a 10×15 pyrex pan with enough vegetable oil to cover about 1cm of the pan (make sure to swirl the oil around to get the sides of the pyrex dish as well)
  • when the oven is hot, put the pyrex with oil inside for 5-10 minutes until oil is piping hot
  • remove pyrex and begin layering the rice–it takes about half of the rice and yogurt mixture for this layer, and make sure the whole pan is covered on the bottom
  • arrange the chicken strips across the top of this layer, making sure it’s a dense layer of chicken
  • pour the rest of the rice mixture on top and smooth it all out, wrap with foil

 

  • put the dish back into the oven
  • it takes about 1.5 – 2 hours to cook, but depending on your oven you should periodically check the status of the crust (the beauty of cooking in glass dishware!)
  • once the crust is nearing golden, remove the foil and let it cook for another 10 minutes then remove the dish from the oven once the crust is truly golden
  • allow the tahchin to rest for 10-15 minutes before flipping it into a serving dish

 

  • optional: rinse ¼ cup of barberries very well and sauté lightly in a bit of vegetable oil until the berries puff up and turn bright red
  • top the flipped tahchin with the berries in any design you prefer!

 

notes:

  • much of the tahchin can be made ahead of time, beginning from the night before
  • i typically cook the chicken the day before, allow it to cool, slice it and store it in tupperware in the fridge with the liquid on top, then microwave it briefly before assembly
  • the rice can be parboiled ahead of time and store in the same pot until you’re ready to mix
  • you can even assemble the tahchin a couple hours ahead of baking–but still be sure to heat up the oil before layering
  • i practice bad cooking techniques and take out the tahchin several times during the process to check the tahdig, but it’s never failed me so don’t be afraid to pull the whole thing out to look at the bottom of the dish!

 

xx.

mirza g h a s e m i • میرزا قاسمی

recipes, Uncategorized

okay first, hi again! it’s been a while since i’ve updated albaloo with recipes, but i have a ton of recipes to make up for that!

this post is about one of my favorite dishes from northern iran. essentially a dip, mirza ghasemi is this incredibly aromatic and savory combination of eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, and egg. an amazing vegetarian dish, mirza ghasemi can be served with rice, persian breads (lavaash, barbari, sangak–you name it!), or as i accidentally experimented with, pizza crusts! honestly, it tastes so good that eating it by itself is so satisfying too.

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the hardest part about making this dish is probably preparing the eggplant, which is typically roasted or grilled. i sometimes take the easy way out and use a jar of the Sera brand roasted eggplant, which equates to about 3 large eggplants! other than that, it’s all about patience and a lot of stirring–the consistency of mirza ghasemi is pretty thick and it’s because all the moisture from the tomatoes and eggplants evaporates as it slowly cooks.

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note: if you choose to use pre-roasted eggplants like the Sera jars, you can start following this recipe at step 3!

recipe (serves 6)

ingredients:

  • 4 large eggplants
  • 6 large tomatoes, peeled and diced (you can substitute canned tomatoes or tomato paste if you’re pressed on time!)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ⅛ tsp saffron, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable/canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • salt, to taste

instructions:

  1. poke each side of the eggplants with a fork and grill until the skin is completely charred, and the eggplant is cooked (soft)
  2. once the eggplants have cooled, scoop flesh away from peel and chop the eggplants into rough pieces
  3. heat oil in a large pan and add chopped eggplant; cook over medium, stirring frequently, until the eggplant becomes creamy in texture and much of the moisture has evaporated
  4. add turmeric to the eggplant, stirring for about a minute, then remove the pan from the heat
  5. in a separate large pan, cook the peeled/diced tomatoes until the moisture has evaporated
  6. add minced garlic and sauté, careful not to burn the garlic
  7. add the eggplant to the tomatoes and garlic, stirring frequently until combined
  8. add the dissolved saffron, then cook the mixture for another 5 to 10 minutes until thick (similar to mashed potatoes)
  9. in another pan, scramble two eggs, making sure to break up the pieces well
  10. add eggs to eggplant/tomato mixture, combine, and enjoy!

xx.

easy persian rice • k a t e h • کته

recipes, Uncategorized

there are a couple methods for making persian-style rice, and the easier/simpler method is called kateh. the resulting rice is typically more sticky than that of other cooking methods, and the tahdig (highly-coveted, thick rice crust at the bottom of the pot) doesn’t always come out as thick and crunchy. regardless, it still has the amazing aroma that comes with basmati rice, and it’s a simple addition to any persian dish!

when i was younger, i’d always ask my mom to let me make the kateh when she would make it for dinner or sunday afternoon meal. with her guidance and attention to timing, it always, always turned out great–tahdig included. i used to think i was the master of making kateh, but now that i have to make it on my own, i realize that this was not the case! after a couple nearly-failed attempts (read: too mushy, too salty, no tahdig, etc.), i’ve finally mastered the texture and taste associated with a good kateh, and the only left for me to do is get a good non-stick pot so my tahdig will actually come out (this is key!!)

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having had to explain to my roommate recently why we wrap the pot lid with a towel (it’s to collect the steam towards the end of the cooking), and what tahdig is (the best part of persian food, hands down), i figured it’s a good idea to do a little post on this!

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recipe (serves 3):

ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable/canola oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon saffron dissolved in 1-2 tablespoon of hot water (optional)

instructions:

  1. add rice to a non-stick pot and rinse 3-4 times, or until water runs clear
  2. add measured water to pot (alternatively, add enough water to cover rice by ½ inch), and salt, to taste–test the water, it should taste salty, but not too salty! allow rice to soak for at least 45 minutes before turning on heat
  3. turn stove on medium/high heat, and let rice absorb water (without lid)
  4. when the rice has absorbed most of the water (NOT ALL!) add the oil and gently stir the pot, allowing oil to seep to the bottom
  5. cover the pot lid tightly with a clean, thick cloth or dish towel, and place on pot
  6. allow rice to cook for 40-50 minutes on low-medium heat
  7. (optional) when rice has cooked, take a couple spoonfuls and place in a bowl, pour saffron mixture over rice and fluff with a fork until the rice has turned a bright yellow/orange color. this is used for garnishing the rice
  8. either place a dish over the pot and flip for a cake-looking rice, or spoon out the rice gently and remove the tahdig (if present) separately. spoon saffron rice over, serve with kabobs or stews and enjoy!

xx.

kabob d i g i • کباب دیگی

recipes, Uncategorized

while persian cuisine is so diverse, and full of many, many amazing dishes, chelo kabob remains the favorite of many. with so many different kinds of kabob–koobideh (ground beef), barg (filet or tenderloin), and joojeh (chicken) to name a couple–it’s hard to choose a favorite! however, when you don’t have access to a grill, like me, your choice of kabob becomes simple: kabob digi (pan kabob).

while i don’t discriminate when it comes to kabob, kabob digi has always been a favorite of mine. because cooking persian food can be so time consuming, we didn’t always eat it for weekday dinners when i was growing up. so, whenever my mom would come home from work and say we were having kabob digi, it felt like a treat!

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now that i live in my own apartment, sans grill, i look to kabob digi as a good recipe for the weekend when i’m craving some chelo kabob. it’s pretty easy to make, and only takes about 30 minutes! the good thing is, if you’re cooking for one person, there is allllllways leftovers!

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recipe (serves 4):

ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (you can use lamb, or a combo if you want!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large tomato (i use beefsteak tomatoes)
  • 2-4 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

instructions:

  1. grate or process onion, and drain any liquid. you can use a cheesecloth, squeezing out all the extra liquid from the onion. place onion in a mixing bowl
  2. add ground meat to the bowl with the onion
  3. add salt, pepper, and turmeric
  4. mix onion, meat, and spices by hand until completely combined. consistency should almost be like a paste
  5. roll into balls and flatten to make an oval shape. the size is completely up to you–i usually make smaller ones–but the patties should not be too thick!
  6. cut the tomato into thick slices, then cut each slice in half
  7. place tomato slices over olive oil in a pan and sauté carefully over a medium heat. these do not need to cook long (5-7 minutes), and remove from heat well before the tomatoes become mushy
  8. heat vegetable/canola oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat
  9. add the patties to the oil and allow the first side to be seared
  10. flip the patties and continue to cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes, or until they are cooked through
  11. turn off heat, and allow kabobs to sit for a couple minutes before plating
  12. serve tomatoes and kabobs with basmati rice, and enjoy!

 

xx.

grilled trout of shomal • g h e z e l a l a

travel, Uncategorized

as part of my travels with family to iran last summer, we spent a good portion of our time in the northern, mountainous region of the country, situated by the caspian sea. typically referred to as shomal, this region of the country boasts beautiful views of both mountains and the sea, and is known for its amazing foods.

a lot of my favorite dishes from this region include mirza ghasemi (made with smoked or grilled eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric and egg), baghali ghatogh (made with broad beans, dill, egg, turmeric, and garlic), and mahi kababi (grilled fish, typically rainbow trout).

we spent a lot of our days in shomal taking quick trips visiting towns along the caspian sea coast, or the mountainous towns that are situated 1500m above sea level. each town had its own charm and my grandfather had his go-to restaurant along each route. one restaurant we visited was particularly interesting. a father-son operation in a rural distric of shomal known as do hezar, the restaurant (whose name i never learned) sits at the top of the mountain (roughly 1500 – 2000m above sea level) alongside the winding main road. let’s put it this way, you will never, ever get tired of the view you have from your table.

view

not only is this place in a beautiful area, but it’s a quiet restaurant (we were the only people there at that hour of the afternoon) that is known for it’s grilled rainbow trout (ghezel ala). i’ve never been a huge fish fanatic, so the fact that i nearly inhaled an entire one of these grilled trouts on my own just goes to show how amazing it tasted.

The owner, an acquaintance of my grandfather, does all the grilling of the fish himself, dubbing the dish his “specialty.” the trick to the amazing taste is the two-part grilling process: the first step is to put the entire fish (on a skewer, skin intact) over high flames until the fat under the skin melts and the skin comes off. the next step is to remove the rest of the skin, put salt, pepper, and olive oil on the fish, and return to the grill. the result is the most flaky, well-seasoned trout you will ever have. seriously. after the grilling, the grilling master debones the fish for you, right at the table (see video).

the trout is served with kateh (a traditional style of cooking basmati rice in shomal), mirza ghassemi, and rob-e aloocheh which is a chutney made of {very} sour plums that goes on the fish–and it’s so amazing, i wish i could have brought some back with me!

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i could really use a spread like this right now!

xx.

 

s h i r i n i • keshmeshi • شیرینی کشمشی

Uncategorized

one of my favorite persian sweets, especially around norooz, is shirini keshmeshi. just picture: rosewater, saffron, and raisins floating in a light, crisp cookie. pass the tea, please!

not only do these taste amazing, but they are so easy to make–and one batch makes roughly 80 – 90 cookies!

keshmeshi

recipe (adapted from here, i add saffron to my recipe!):

ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon rosewater (golab)
  • ⅓ teaspoon saffron (persian saffron, if possible) dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1¾ cup sugar
  • 2⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups raisins

instructions:

  1. Mix melted butter, rosewater, vanilla, saffron, and sugar in a large mixing bowl until combined.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.
  3. Fold in raisins.
  4. Fold in the flour in sections–make sure each section is well combined before you add the next.
  5. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper–important to use parchment paper, foil will cause the cookies to burn on the bottom FAST!
  8. Using a two teaspoons, drop teaspoon sized amounts of dough onto the sheet–leave an inch in between each cookie as they tend to spread!
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie have a golden color to them.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.
  11. Serve with hot tea, and enjoy! Store leftovers (if any!) in an air-tight container at room temperature.

spring into • n o r o o z

norooz, Uncategorized

the first day of spring is a joyous day all around the world–a sign that the harsh, cold winter season is over. the days leading up to the start of spring are generally filled with the exciting blooming of flowers and beautiful weather. for iranians (and all others who celebrate), the first day of spring is also the first day of a new year.

norooz (ئوروز, literally meaning new day) is the persian new year celebration, typically falling on the 20th or 21st of March, and lasting 13 days. this has always been my favorite holiday (sorry christmas!), and though i’ve never been able to actually celebrate it in iran, having my (very large) persian family around to celebrate the new year with every year makes it very special.

 

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part of the tradition of norooz is to set up the haftsin–a display of various items, each representing things you hope for in the new year. there are seven must-have items, all beginning with the farsi letter “sin” or “s”: seeb (apples), symbolizing beauty; sabzeh (wheat sprouts), symbolizing rebirth; serkeh (vinegar), symbolizing old age and patience; samanu (wheat germ pudding), symbolizing wealth; senjed (dried oleaster), symbolizing love;  seer (garlic), symbolizing health; and somagh (sumac), symbolizing the sunrise.

additionally, items like mirrors, candles, dyed eggs, flowers (hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, etc.), book of hafez poetry, goldfish, and many other items are placed on the haftsin, making it one of the coolest things i’ve ever seen.

since today is the 13th day of the new year 1395, what we call seezdah bedar, i figured it was appropriate to introduce norooz to those who are unfamiliar with it, and to those who know and celebrate this wonderful time of the year: saleh no mobarak!

stay tuned for recipes of all the sweets i baked for norooz this year!

xx.