I am not Iranian but have dear friends from Iran who got me started celebrating the Spring equinox holiday known as “Nowruz” or “New Day” translated from Persian. My contact with the culture includes a love for the food, and I’ve learned to cook several dishes from the wonderful Iranian cuisine over the years, and I’ll share one with you in my post.
A big part of the holiday is to set a table with symbolic elements of the season, called a “Haft-seen” or “Seven S’s”. This means a table with seven items that begin with the Persian letter “S”, and those items are somewhat variable, but all of them represent nature or a metaphysical idea, such as the transience of time, and so on. Families in Iran make an effort to set a beautiful Haft-seen table every year. Below, you can see mine, with a lovely set hand-made for me by a dear friend from an Iranian family who unoffically “adopted” me some years ago. Next to it is a photo labeled with a few English words for common items (with grateful credits to My Persian Kitchen). Nowruz predates the influx of Islam and many of the traditions and symbols of this holiday have been absorbed into Western celebrations around the Spring equinox.
Not bad, I think for an American!
Check out this cute Nowruz “countdown” on a website called 7seen. Like the New Year celebrations in the West, Nowruz has a countdown to a specific hour, whose locus is Tehran time. This year, it’s Saturday March 20, 2021, 13:07:28 PM, or year 1400 in the Persian calendar.
I’ve not yet visited Iran, but I hope to make it happen one day. Meantime, I’ve added Nowruz to my international inventory of holidays that I celebrate in the spirit of fellowship.
Here is an up-close look at my keshmeshi, or raisin cookies. They have light and crispy edges, and are flavored with vanilla and rosewater. Every Iranian kid grows up with these. I love the texture, too, as it is similar to a French madeleine. I got the recipe from my cherished Iran cookery bible, Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij. I highly recommend this cookbook, a complete primer on Iranian cookery.