The Persian New Year is upon us! Today marks the first day of spring and the beginning of a new year in Iran. Norooz, meaning “new day”, is the Persian name for this ancient celebration of renewal, which has roots in the Zoroastrian religion. Norooz is celebrated each year on the vernal equinox, when winter turns to spring, by Iranians of all faiths and millions of other peoples across Asia. There are many time-honored traditions associated with the New Year in Iran, but some of the most beloved, as you can imagine, involve food.
On the first day of Norooz, families join together for a special dinner of spring foods filled with fresh green herbs (sabzi) and fish, representing abundance and the greenness of nature. Delicious sweets, candies and puddings are also served throughout the thirteen days of Norooz. Below are some examples of the culinary delights enjoyed by Iranians during the New Year, along with recipes so you can try them out at home. Bon appétit, or as the Persians say it, nush-e jan!
Sabzi Polo Mahi: Persian rice loaded with fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, leeks and dill, served along side smoked or battered white fish.
Kuku-ye Sabzi: A delicate herb and egg soufflé and staple of new year’s celebrations.
Ash-e Reshte: A traditional, hearty soup made of beans, noodles and lots of fresh herbs. Eaten at Norooz, the noodles symbolize unraveling the difficulties of the coming year.
Reshteh Polo: A rice dish with toasted noodles or reshte, said to bring success to those who eat it.
Naan-e Berenji: Cookies made from rice flour, rich in flavor but not too sweet.
Baghlava: A distinctly Persian take on this Middle Eastern staple, soaked in rosewater and honey.
Naan-e Keshmeshy: Scrumptious, thin raisin cookies.
Sohan-e Asali: Persian honey and saffron almond candy