It’s the beginning of spring in northern hemisphere!
Nowruz, literally meaning new day, is the ancient Persian celebration of new year which also celebrates the arrival of Spring as well. It’s beauty is in that it brings people of different religions in Iran together. So all Iranians, no matter if they are Jewish, Christian or Muslim, celebrate this wonderful tradition, with all the bells and whistles of it!… Nowruz is also celebrated by people in some other countries, like Tajikestan, Azerbaijan, Albania, and Georgia.
Leading up to Nowruz, streets in Tehran are filled with people shopping for the new year holidays, and at home, they are spring-cleaning every nook and cranny of their house to prepare for Nowruz!
Boy watching the gold fish in a Tehran Nowruz market
They lay the haft-seen table which is a table of seven items, with each being a symbol of good fortune, health, or wealth for the new year. These items all start with the “seen” letter (“س”) in Farsi language (pronounced same as letter “S” in English, and “haft” means seven in Farsi, hence the table is called haft-seen.
Coloured eggs, book of Hafez poetry, gold fish in its bowl, candles, and the family’s religious book are also placed at the table.
This year, my haft-seen table consists of:
1- Sonbol: Meaning hyacinth, symbolising rebirth
2- Sekkeh: Meaning coins, symbolising prosperity
3- Sa’at: Meaning clock, symbolising happy times
4- Somagh: Meaning Sumac, the spice,for the (colour of ) sunrise, symbolising renewal
5- Serkeh: Meaning vinegar, symbolising old-age and patience
6- Sib: Meaning apple, symbolising beauty
7- Sir: Meaning garlic, symbolising health
This year, I have made a lesser known Persian stew, called Pichagh-Gheimeh, local to the turkish areas of Iran. It has a difficult name, but trust me it’s easy to cook and delicious to eat!
“Pichagh” in Turkish, means knife, and refers to the the shape of the slivered almonds in this stew and “gheimeh” (pronounced gheymeh) refers to the beef stew, with the beef cut into small pieces.
As with previous years, my lovely Persian food blogger friends have also cooked up special Persian dishes to celebrate Nowruz. Make sure you checkout their recipes as well. Each one has shared a food which is close to their heart, for Nowruz celebrations:
~My Caldron: RoseTea ~
~ Coco in the Kitchen: Yakh dar Behesht ~
~ Lab Noon: Herby Pilaf and Turmeric Fried Fish (Sabzi Polo ba Mahi) ~
Don’t forget Persian Nowruz music while cooking by the way!
Let me know if you have any questions when making this at home. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂
500g diced casserole beef
1 teaspoon Persian spice mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup slivered almonds
140g tomato paste
250ml beef stock
0.5 teaspoon of saffron
1.5 tablespoons light taste olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt, to taste
- Chop the onion finely.
- Dice the beef into small cubes, approximately each 0.5cm wide.
- Fry the chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until translucent and they have a bit of colour.
- Now, add the beef pieces along with persian spice mix, cinnamon, and tomato paste.
- Mix well to combine, and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the beef stock. Then, simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 0.5 tablespoon of almonds in a frying pan, then add the almonds and sauté just long enough so that they start to get some colour. DO NOT BURN THEM! My pan was on high heat and this literally took only 15 seconds!
- Add the almonds, along with the saffron. Then, let simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- Taste, then add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Finally, break the eggs on top of the casserole in the pot. Add a few pinches of saffron on top of each egg.
- Let the stew simmer until eggs are set.
- That’s it!!! Serve with saffron rice 🙂 ~~~~~~~