Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

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Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Frank Deis » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:33 pm

Persian New Year comes on March 21, which up until about 1750 was the English New Year (which leads to the story behind April Fool's Day which I won't get into). What I like about Persian New Year is very much like what I like about Chinese New Year -- the food!

We have cooperated with our neighbors to produce a Persian feast for Nowruz for about 20 years now. Among the things I have learned to cook are Kookoos of various sorts -- these are sometimes described as "omelets" but are more like an egg-cake baked in the oven with savory fillings, either grean beans, or cauliflower, or herbs, and so on, and very tasty -- Soohan, which is a luxurious candy reminiscent of the pralines in New Orleans, nuts and honey, but finished brittle, Aash-e Reshte which is a thick stew with noodles in it, very much associated with Nowruz, and various Polos, rice cooked with a variety of ingredients (I think the words pilaff and pulau etc. come from this). We also hunt for items for the haft seen or "seven S" display, some are easy like sib (apple) and sir (garlic), some are harder like senjed, which is the original jujube fruit, a kind of relative of the date.

http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Nowruz/NowRuz.html

This time some friends are bringing Shah Jehan lamb, a leg of lamb marinated in yogurt and spices for 24 hours and cooked utterly tender, and so our neighbor doesn't want me to cook Aash, "too heavy." The recipe isn't Persian but the flavor works with Persian food. And after all they spoke Persian at court in northern India when Shah Jehan ruled. Here is an example of the recipe. http://www.grouprecipes.com/41879/shahj ... -lamb.html

I'll certainly make the soohan. The pic below captures the concept.

Anyone else thinking of cooking Persian for Nowruz? BTW if you ARE Persian, it's like Thanksgiving, you have to take time off from work and travel hundreds of miles to be with your family and everyone eats themselves into a coma. Since nobody at our party is Persian, we're free to shift the date and our meal will be the day before Easter, in April. When we've done it on the date, and invited Persian friends, guess what, they couldn't come, because they were flying out to L.A. to be with their grandparents...

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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:16 am

This sounds great, Frank. Would love to attend one of these feasts to get a good idea of what it's all about and then to start picking up the cooking. That soohan looks delicious, so maybe that would be a good start....

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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Frank Deis » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:25 am

My problem with -- online it seems to be spelled Sohan but it's pronounced Soohan -- is burning the sugar. Maybe half of the candies I make are a perfect transparent golden color. Then tan, then brown, then black, and I have to eat those myself.

If anyone can suggest a solution for THAT I will be very grateful!

You may be able to tell from the picture -- slivered almonds are IN the candy, and chopped (ground) pistachios are sprinkled on top while the sugar is still melty. The golden color comes from the caramelization but also from the addition of honey and saffron.
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Dale Williams » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:31 pm

Sounds like a great meal.
The Shahjahani lamb sounds a lot like a Madhur Jaffrey recipe we've done a couple times, delicious
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Frank Deis » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:47 pm

Just giving this a bump because it's March again and Nowruz is coming. Our film club chose to discuss "Argo" and so we decided to have a Persian theme. Our neighbors who lived several years in Iran (and still go back in spite of everything!) can't make it and I'm kind of trying to shepherd some novices into trying to make something Persian. We'll see how it turns out. I have bought a package of Lavash bread (which I figure will keep in the fridge until Friday in the unopened plastic bag) and a leg of lamb, and I plan to make Celery Khoresh (which despite the name is a lamb stew with celery in it) and probably Adas Polo which is Persian rice with surprises inside -- lentils (adas), dates, raisins, etc. A nice dish for an intro to Persian food.

Of course Friday is March 8 which is some distance from March 21 -- but even when we were having annual dinners with our neighbors, they often had to give their Nowruz party a week earlier or later, because the "real" Persians treat Nowruz the way we treat Thanksgiving -- you travel to be with your family even if it means crossing the entire country to make it happen. So just like you had better not throw a party on Thanksgiving, you can't plan a Nowruz dinner on Nowruz or none of the Iranians will be able to make it.
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby David Creighton » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:59 pm

so, how many times a year can one celebrate 'new year'??
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Frank Deis » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:58 pm

Seriously, with our neighbors we have often celebrated Rosh Hashonah in the Fall, then "American" New Year with a Champagne, caviar, and a fancy meal, then Chinese New Year (usually at a restaurant), then Nowruz, so that's four. If you know of any others let me know. Swiss Independence Day is August 1, French Bastille Day is July 14, we have Thanksgiving and Christmas and 4th of July, in May the KY Derby and Cinco de Mayo often line up. So there's always an excuse for a feast or a party!

Here's what I put in the email for our Film Club meeting on Argo:


If you Google "Persian recipes" there are lots of options if you wanted to participate and bring something Persian. The Persian table has a variety of flatbreads and dips, like hummus and babaganoush (eggplant dip). Also plain yogurt can be used like a dip or used as a topping for rice and other foods. Sometimes plain yogurt is thickened by letting it drip in cheesecloth and a sieve. The very thin flatbread Lavash is served with green herbs, cubes of feta cheese, sliced radishes and tomato slices. Here is a paragraph from Wikipedia

Essential accompaniments
There are certain accompaniments (mokhalafat) which are essential to every Iranian lunch (nahar) and dinner (shaam), regardless of the region. These include a plate of fresh herbs, called sabzi khordan (basil, cilantro, Coriander, fenugreek, green onion, mint, radish (black, red, white), savory (marzeh, origany or sweet fennel), tarragon, Persian watercress or (shaahi), a variety of flat breads, called naan or noon (sangak, lavash, barbari), fresh white cheese (panir, somewhat similar to feta), walnut, sliced and peeled cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and onions, yogurt, and lemon juice. Persian gherkins (khiyarshur) and mixed pickles (Torshi) are also considered essential in most regions.

For Torshi, you would chunk up things like carrots, cauliflower, maybe turnips, and soak in salted water for a few days. Ingredients and things like Lavash bread, sesame cookies, and torshi can be bought at the Phoenician Bakery, 608 George's Road, North Brunswick NJ.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/elli ... index.html
http://www.persianrecipes.net/
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Frank Deis » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:49 am

Last night I put the Khoresh together, I ended up using 3 pounds of lamb leg, cut up into one inch cubes and browned. I'm making celery khoresh, khoresh-e-karafs, and it looks kind of bright green when you're done because it has a lot of parsley and mint in it (and sometimes cilantro, mine has that too). My neighbor the Persian food expert tasted it and said to add more mint -- I used the juice of three limes and it's sour-ish, and the mint flavor balances that a bit. I told her I had put in a ton of fresh mint but then I remembered I have dried mint (a typical Persian ingredient) which packs a real punch, so adding a teaspoon of that probably got the flavor up to where it should be. The lamb chunks are so tender now, this is a really good stew.

I had intended to also make my kashk-e-bademjan last night but was kind of overwhelmed with the work required for the stew. It finally snowed here, and Louise is taking the day off for unrelated reasons, so I think I'll just put that dish together now. Long story short, it's eggplant dip with yogurt. Flavored with Persian things (mint, turmeric, crispy browned onions, walnuts).

I was going to make Adas Polow which is rice with lentils raisins and dates -- but my advisor said that's too many flavors with the khoreshe karafs, so I am going to do a simple version of the rice cooked with a stick of butter and flavored with saffron -- cooked in a cooker which will give it a scorched brown bottom. Requires very little prep or attention and will make a good foil for the stew.

I've bought Naan from Costco, and Lavash bread from a middle-eastern grocery, and I suppose I will rely on other people to get the stuff I mentioned above in the email I quoted. Even if nobody brings anything else -- with the egg "kookoo" my friends are making we will have the fixings of a good Persian dinner.
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Susan B » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:36 pm

Sounds delicious, Frank. We may have to revisit a Noh Rooz dinner. We have Kashk e-bademjam fairly frequently, but I haven't made a Khoresh in years. Adas polow sounds delicious as does your Khoresh, with beef or chicken of course as we are not lamb eaters.
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Frank Deis » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:07 pm

Thanks Susan -- I just finished the Bademjan. I'm lucky to be able to buy real Kashk. As you probably know it has a SHARP flavor, much stronger than sour cream, and much much more flavor than what we used to use, plain yogurt drained through cheesecloth and a sieve. I still like the thickened yogurt tho and will use that as a top layer when we serve it.

As I was tasting and seasoning and adding the kashk I also thought how lucky I was to know what flavor profile I'm aiming at. Making the dish "cold" from the cookbook recipe, you could end up with quite a variety of textures -- and the salt called for in the recipe is much less than what I think eggplant needs.

I am a little worried that between those who won't eat lamb and those who won't eat cilantro (and those who won't eat eggplant) I may have lots of leftovers. But then again, heck, more for me! :D
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Frank Deis » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:03 am

Back from my film club -- I shouldn't have worried. Everyone raved about the Persian food, and 3 pounds of lamb went away, "whisk!!"

We brought home a little rice, some of the eggplant dip, and some of the breads. But it certainly was gratifying to see everyone enjoying this food so much, when only Louise and I and another couple had ever had it before.

Because the theme was the discussion of "Argo" one guy brought some Molson XXX beer, which was cool -- to honor the Canadians!
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Susan B » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:57 pm

the salt called for in the recipe is much less than what I think eggplant needs


I find that the kashk that I buy is fairly salty, making the small amount of salt in the recipe not too far off.
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Re: Persian New Year plans, Nowruz

Postby Jenise » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:59 pm

Frank, forget the food. I want to be a member of your film club!

(Just saw Argo. Wow.)
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