Norooz or Nowruz meaning ‘The New Day’ marks the beginning of the Iranian New Year. It is the first day of spring or Equinox and marks the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. On this day the sun crosses the celestial equator and families gather together to observe the rituals and festivities of this day. It is also Baha’i new year but the day is celebrated by Iranians across the world.
Norooz or Persian New year celebrates rebirth and renewal symbolized by the onset of spring. The celebration is partly rooted in the Zoroastrian tradition but has been celebrated for thousands of years now.
This year Norooz will start on March 21, 2015 in Iran and the celebrations last for 12 days. The exact time when the new year starts is called Tanvil and coincides with the vernal equinox.
The festivities begin with the celebration of the night of Chahar Shanbe Suri. It is celebrated on the last Wednesday of the old year to get rid of all the bad luck and misfortunes of last year. People generally light small bonfires and jump over the flames shouting ‘Zardie man az to, sorkhie to az man’ meaning ‘May my sickly pallor be yours and your red glow be mine’.
With the start of the festivities a traditional ceremonial table is set up called ‘sofreh-ye-haft-sinn’ or the ‘cloth of seven dishes’. The table is set up with the Kitab-i-Aqdas, their Holy Book, a bowl of gold fish, mirror, candles, flowers, painted eggs and seven traditional Persian dishes each starting with the letter ‘s’. This table is kept in the home for thirteen days after the start of the holiday.
The seven traditional Norooz foods are-
Sabzeh– barley, lentil or wheat sprouts which are left to grow in a dish; symbolizing renewal
Samanu– a sweet dish made from wheat germ; symbolizing wealth or prosperity
Senjed– dried fruit of the lotus tree; symbolizes love
Sir– garlic; symbolizing remedy and medicine
Sib– apples; symbolizes beauty and health
Somaq– sumac berries, which symbolizes sunrise
Serkeh– vinegar which symbolizes patience, age and wisdom
Recipes for Norooz
A traditional Norooz dinner is called Sabzi Polo Mahi which is a rice dish with whitefish and green herbs like parsley, coriander, chives and fenugreek. At the end of thirteen days, Sizdeh Bedar is celebrated which means ‘getting rid of the thirteenth’. The green sprouts grown during the holiday are thrown into rivers or lakes to symbolize the plants return to nature. This marks the end of the festivities. Here are a few Norooz recipes to help you with the celebrations for the Persian New Year.
Mahi Fish Fried
A traditional Norooz or Nowruz lunch includes a platter of sabzi olow (mixed herb rice) with mahi (fish). The fish can be either smoked (doodi) or pan-fried (sorkh kardeh). Isn’t it mouthwatering? Read the entire recipe on Turmeric Saffron here.
A Persian New year’s soup with beans, noodles and herbs are definitely a treat. Read the entire recipe here.
A kookoo — also spelled kookoo-ye, kuku, or kou-kou — is an Iranian open-faced omelet similar to an Italian frittata. There are many variations of these egg dishes using a variety of fillings and flavorings. Kookoo sabzi is probably the most popular type and is flavored with fresh herbs, which also tint it a deep emerald green. Read the entire recipe here.
It is a Persian stew which is really delicious, healthy and easy to make. It is generally served with Persian rice or bread. Typically this recipes is made of Pacheh Baghali, Iranian beans. Watch the video of the recipe here.
Khoresht-e-Fesenjan is a chicken and walnut stew. Pomegranate molasses and walnuts give a sweet, sour and bitter taste to the classic stew. The book Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour inspires this recipe. Read the entire recipe here
This traditional Persian saffron and rice pudding is both fragrant and delicious. Flavored with saffron and rose water, decorated with cinnamon, almonds and pistachios, this dessert is absolutely delicious. Read the recipe here.
So now you have some Persian recipes to try for New Year. What is your favorite Persian dish?