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Mar 11, 2007 09:48 PM

Norooz – Persian/Iranian New Year (March … especially the 13th, 20th & 21st)

I first heard of Norooz last year because a local Persian Deli had a “Happy NoRooz” sign in the window.

I was too late last year, so I looked into it this year.

I can use all the help I can get here because this is so unfamiliar to me, so jump in with corrections.

On this Tuesday (3/13) there is Chahrshanbeh Souri where festivals are held in the evening across the US (and I’m sure elsewhere). Someone said that this didn’t involve food, but every large event I’ve read about from NY to CA … mentions food … and music … and fire.

Anyone been to one of these festivals (often held on the beach where people jump over fire to burn away the bad things that happened in the last year). What type of food is served? Any specific Persian food?

I read something about roasted corn and roasted meat or something. Can’t seem to find that link again. Is this the same as “Red Wednesday?” I’m confused because well, it is on a Tuesday.

If it is the same day then the following foods are available at festivals ??? I’m asking: Noodle Soup, Baslogh (some sort of filled food), ajil-e chahar shanbeh soury and ajil-e moshkel gosha … mixtures of seven fruits/nuts: pistachios, roasted chick-peas, almonds, hazelnuts, peaches, apricots, and raisins.

I know Berkeley, CA has a big bash … & NYC & Toronto and a number of cities everywhere.

I mean … streets are closed … why have I NEVER heard of this event? The Persian chamber of commerce doesn’t seem to be doing much promotion. I have NEVER read about this in a magazine or newspaper.

Where has anyone gone to one of these bashes & what food was served … of course, info about the actual festival & food in Iran would be great.

That being said, the big dinner seems to be on the first day of spring. The dinner dishes I’ve seen refereneced … much of it having to do with good luck for the next year

Noodle Soup (Ash-e reshteh) to unravel or remove the knots from our lives. .
Rice with any of the following: Herbs, noodles, date, raisins, barberries, candied orange peel, carrots: a simple of re-birth
Fish (Sabzi polow ba mahi) representing fertility. The fish is prepared either fried or smoked?
Eggs & Herbs (Kuku-ye sabzi) … I’m getting sabzi means rice … more rebirth symbols
Bread, Cheese, and Fresh Herbs (Nan-o panir-o sabzi khordan) prosperity.
Wheat Sprout pudding (Samanu) - fertitlity and rebirth.
Sprout Cookies (Kolucheh-ye Javaneh-ye Gandom) prosperity and fertility.
Ice in Paradise (Yakh dar Behesht) nourishment
Saffron Sherbet and Saffron Tea with Rock Candy (Sharbat-e Zaferan va Chai-e Zafaran ba nabat) sweetness and light.
Baklava, Chick-pea Cookies, and Sugar Coated Almonds (Baqlava, Nan-e Nokhodchi, Noghl) prospertiy.

There are very pretty tables set with seven dishes that begin with the Persian letter “S” (Simm). Are these foods eaten or only displayed?

1 Sabzeh – wheat or lentil sprouts representing rebirth.
2. Samanu – wheat sprout … a sweet smooth new life
3 Seeb - apple representing health and beauty.
4. Senjed – dry lotus fruit representing love. The sweet scent of lotus flowers is said to make people fall in love
5. Seer - garlic representing medicine.
6. Somaq - sumac berries representing the triumph of good over evil like the red berries the color of a sunrise … like the sun overcoming darkness
7. Serkeh - vinegar, representing age and patience.

People also paint eggs like, uh, Easter? But some of the eggs I saw were amazing … some covered in silver and gold. Do these get eaten or are they merely decoration?

There are sweets exchanged. The Persian word ‘qand’ (sugar) is where the word ‘cand-y’ originates.
Some sweets:
- sugar-coated almonds (noghls)
- baklava
- rice cookies flavored with cardamom and topped with poppy seeds (nan-e berenji)
- almond cookies flavored with cardamom and rose water (nan-e badami)
- chick-pea cookies flavored with cardamom and topped with pistachios (nan-e nokhodchi)
- honey almonds with saffron and topped with pistachios (sohan asali),
- walnut cookies flavored with cardamom and topped with pistachios (nan-e gerdui)

There are thirteen days of Norooz starting on the first day of spring. On the 13th day - Sizdeh bedar there is a picnic. Are there traditional foods served then?

Really … why have I NEVER heard of all this … and all of this from a little sign in a deli.

Happy Persian New Year. It is a time to mend relationships, eh?

"Good thought, good word, good deed-to the year end, happy indeed.

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    1. Iranian New Year(Norooz) is a celebration which spans over three weeks with the New Year being ushered in on the first day of Spring culminating 13 days (Sizdeh Bedar) after with a traditional picnic in the country. The haft seen table of seven "s's" is set up in homes for decorative purposes. There usually are sweets though nearby which are passed around and guests are offered nuts,fruits,and sweets with tea. Sabzi are green herbs and sabzi pollow (rice) is a popular rice for Norooz along with a sweet rice( zerershk(barberries) pollow and a shireen pollow with carrots/pistachios. A white fish is popular for the menu and chicken with the sweet rice. The menu is very traditional much like Thanksgiving with families serving the same dishes each year - I know I will always find " koo-koo" a mixture of green herbs and eggs cooked much like a frittata served cold. Being a springtime celebration, an emphasis is placed on greens and new life so there are eggs both on display and in dishes. Hope you find a celebration this year to enjoy.
      A website with some info on event in Berkeley,CA

      1. Ok, so I attened Chahar Shanbe Soori in Albany and Berkeley California

        Also stopped by a Persian deli earlier and had wheat sprout pudding ... Samanu

        Yeah, that definately falls into the interesting category. It really had a pleasant texture and mouthfeel ... sort of like butterscotch pudding ... that same color too. But this is just unsweetened wheat and to me it tasted a little what I'd imagine making pudding out of kibble would taste like. I'm thinking aquired taste here.

        1. Happy Iranian New Year, all. And happy first day of Spring.

          I'm attaching a picture of my Haft Seen (cropped strangely by CH). There are seven things that start with S (in farsi) there, along with moist, dense cookies made with chickpea flour (noon nokhodchi). The lentils are supposed to be sprouts, and have the slightest indistinct smidge of green coming out, so they count (sigh--will start earlier next year). They'll be full by the 13th day of the new year, when it's traditional for people to go out into parks to picnic, and throw their sprouts into streams. But these aren't just any picnics. People will lug out gas cookers, and enormous pots of ash-e reshteh, a dense stew with herbs, fresh noodles and a mishmosh of grains and legumes. Run into a co-worker and you'll be begged to have a seat and have some food with them.

          The other great thing about Spring is that green fresh baby almonds are ubiquitous in Iran at the start of spring. Soaked in water, and served with salt, you can buy bags of the stuff from huge trays set up on street corners. God, just writing about it makes me want to get out of icy NYC. (Though at times you can find the green almonds at Sahadi's in Brooklyn). Here's a picture:
          While I'm at it, here's a picture of green plums (also seasonal):

          3 Replies
          1. re: rose water

            Happy New Year to you too !!!

            I'm very pleased with my new-found holiday. Thanks for more information about the picnic.

            Thanks for putting a name to one of the cookies I had during Chahar Shanbe Soori ... noon nokhodchi. Those chickpea cookies are tasty, the texture reminding me of Spanish polverones.

            What is the reason for throwing the sprouts in streams?

            Thanks for the hint about the green almonds and green plums. I'll keep an eye out for them at the local Persian markets. How are the green plums eaten? What are the names for them?

            Since you are in an icy state, here are pictures from a local Bay Area Festival that are buried in my local link. Enjoy.

            VERY cool kebob pic ... kebobs being prepared on a Persian carpet

            Big old pot of noodle soup being prepared with a nice ariel view of the contents

            Not from the picnic, but a better picture of the green soup from Chowhound poster Professor Salt's blog.

            Nice little picnic spread ... how do I get these people to be my friends and invite me ... I'm going to have to practice my farsi to suck up to folks.

            What picnic is complete without a hookah

            Pot of wheat sprouts which you will see at the Persian places this time of year ... with container of cheese next to it.

            Album of all 412 pictures which has non food pics like dancing and just shots of people who attended ... lots of cute little baby shots

            Of all places, Chez Panise is having a special Norooz dinner tomorrow (3/21) Here's what they will be serving

            Wednesday, March 21 $125 Parsi New Year with Niloufer Ichaporia King

            Pomegranate kir royal; cashews with ajwain, toasted papads, and crescents of green mango

            Parsi scrambled egg samosas with green chutney

            Ritual dal

            Lobster salad with curry leaf vinaigrette

            Duck vindaloo: Goan-style braised leg and grilled breast of Sonoma County Liberty duck
            Basmati rice with turnips, turnip greens, amaranth, and fresh turmeric and cumin

            Mango ice

            Falooda and sweets with lemongrass and mint tisane

            Although ... is this the same thing? I mean ... where's the noodle soup? Seems more Indian. Am I missing another holiday?

            1. re: rworange

              In this case, "Parsi" may be referring to the Zoroastrians who left Persia centuries ago for India. This is also the start of the Zoroastrian year.


              1. re: rworange

                The plums are goje sabz--they're very tart/sour, and eaten (in typical Iranian fashion) with lots of salt.

                Ditto what Melanie said re: Parsis

            2. A little more information from the Chow Grinder

              Norouz Mobarak!