Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Happy New Year!

Celebrate, I did!

I like to thank all of you who dropped me a line and cheered me up with your kind wishes and wise words.

This was my haft-seen (seen is the letter that sounds like S; haft means 7; haft-seen is a traditional table set with symbolic items, signifying birth (Sabzeh), health (Seer), wealth(Sekkeh), love (Senjed), patience (Serkeh), beauty (Seeb), festivity (Sonbol), fertility(eggs), life(my three years old gold fish, Leni), reflection(mirror).

I also made Aash-Reshteh:

A thick soup with plenty of fresh herbs, spinach, lentils, beans, garlic, onion and noodles (reshteh). Reshteh, in Persian means "string" or "thread". We have this soup on the new years eve, so we will have a good grip on the "thread of life" in the year to come.

Anyways, lots of symbolism, all to signify our empowered existence in relation to nature.
In Iran, we would spend 13 first days of spring, visiting friends and foes; rekindling bonds with friends and making peace with foes. Tradition is to visit the elders of one's family and neighborhood and those who have suffered a loss first. Visits are often short, sometimes as short as 15 minutes. But it is important to pay a visit, and to return the visit. This may sound silly, but it is a very festive and fun thing to do. It's like eat-all-you-can festival: featuring cookies, nuts and fruits.

Well, since I don't have anyone to visit, I am going to go see if I need to dig the car out of snow, and then go to work! :)


Sophia said...

Happy New Year. The picture is lovely. Check my spinach and lentils soup receipe.
adapted from a Lebanese receipe with more spinach and less lentils, coriander, lemon zest and garlic.

Naj said...

mmm, sounds yummy.

did I ever tell you, I am absolutely incapable of following recipes. I end up getting just a little creative mid way!

Let's see if I can produce the aash reshte recipe:
Lentils (brown ones) one cup
chick peas (one cup)
red beans (one cup)
spinach (one bag, wash and chop)
corriander+mint+parsley+leak (0.5 kg; washed and finely chopped)
wheat noodles (250 g)
garlic (2 cloves)
Onion (one large)
turmeric (one table spoon)
dried mint (two table spoons)
vegetable oil, half a cup.

Cook beans (not lentils) ahead of time or use cans.
Fry onions in oil, such that they caramelize,
then add turmeric and let it cook for 2-3 mins.
Add lentils to onion and toss for a few mins,
chop one clove of garlic very finely and add it to lentils and onions. cook for 2-3 mins in high heat.
add herbs and spinach, stir fry for 2 minute,
then add 8 cups of water and cook until lentils are half cooked.
Then add cooked peas and beans and let it simmer on medium heat for about an hour
(now this is where I run out of ideas on how to tell you check the texture and consistency of the mix
:( :) )
increase the heat so the soup boils rapidly, add noodles (break them to small pieces), and cook for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

Now seasoning:
You can make this soup sour, in this case you will need "kashk". You will not find kashk but in Iranian stores. It's a dairy product. Just aask for "kashk" and they will show you.

You can make this soup sweet and sour (that I think a southern tradition, but the one I like most)
mix one cup of sugar with half a cup of white-grape vinigar and add to the soup.

Oh yes I forgot salt, well add ad much salt at you like.

To garnish (and also to add more flavor), chop garlic into tiny little cubes; fry it slowly in oil and 1/4 tbls turmeric, till it's brownish. drain it from oil, but use the same oil to fry the dried mint. Spread the fried mint and garlic on the soup.

Oh dear! Wonder if anyone's brave enough to trust me and my recipe. But I assure you I make it very well :))

Sophia said...

That's what I do, I never reproduce the same recipe. I take it as general guideline and always add something new or change proportions. Following religiously a recipe is boring. That's why I am unable to make pastries because there is less freedom for creativity of taste.

Naj said...


I haven't made a cake since I was 14!

I'm happy to know that I'm not the only person who cannot bake for the exact SAME reason :)

nunya said...

Beautiful. The table you set was beautiful. The soup looks good also.
I can't bake either. I figured that out when my Nana asked me to make pumpkin cookies and I ended up with a cake. It was good, but I don't think I could make it again. I just shrug when people ask me for a recipe, or what the ingredients were in what they just ate. :)

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Happy NOROUZ Naj!!

Naj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Naj said...

Furgaia Has made a more informative post about

Thank you Furgaia.

bijan said...

Hello and Happy New Year to you! Beautiful Haft-seen, but the Ashreshteh was really mean. I just have to sleep on that :)

GOD! That's a lot of steps and too many ingredients. Is it really that complicated? Thank you, one of these days, I'll have to pull my sleeves up and actually make an attempt. Pray for me please. Now where am I going to get all the ingredients? I guess first things first… Don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Naj said...


Bijan, you ARE funny!

I hear they sell aash-reshte kits nowadays. Aren't you a Californian?

I used to make cookies years ago too (took me 2 days to make them, because the dough required QUITE a bit of working). But because I don't like cookies, I figured my ancestors will not roll in their graves if I don't. So I just buy "Sohan" nowadays, and feed it to my sugar-lovin' friends.

Coffee Messiah said...

Yes, Happy New Year and that dish does look very good! ; )

pissed off patricia said...

Oh my! Oh my! What beautiful pictures. The table cloth is just beautiful.

Traditions have always received so much respect from me. Yours are as lovely as your photos.

Wishing you a loving and happy New Year from my home to yours.

DivaJood said...

Naj, happy New Year. I am going to try the recipies, from Sofia, and also your aash rehte - they sound yummy. Either that, or we'll just head over to Reza's Restaurant for dinner one night this week. That's the easy way out, I think.

Naj said...

Hi, Messiah, Patricia, DivaJood. and happy spring to you too.

I have to admit, the aash-reshteh is delicious! But I suggest you have an Iranian in your neighborhood make it for you. Hmm maybe I can start a North-American aash-tour :)

Traditions, I love too, as long as they involve good food. :)

Naj said...

oh, spello: leek!

David said...

Hello Naj, Happy Norooz! :) Your haft-seen table looks very attractive and your soup looks delicious. Also, congratulations on the longevity of your goldfish!

I would like to thank you for your visit to my blog and for directing me to the Open Letter to Fahah Diba: "Kindly Come and Do Us a Favor, Oh Lady" by Azadeh Forghani (translated by Niki Akhavan, Sima Shakhsari). I read the entire letter with interest! Btw, I am a regular reader of Niki's blog "Another Irani Online" and I was a friend to Sima for a time back when she was writing her English blog (I still miss it!). I have great respect for both Niki and Sima. Their blogs are worth checking out if you don't know them. Here are some links:



You have an interesting blog. I read your discussion about Iran changing to a Euro standard for business vs. the dollar and U.S. inflation. I don't know a lot about world economics, so that post really got me to thinking! I will visit again.

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Naj,
beautiful table
set by a Queen fit for a Queen.

Love the symbolisms ...
a good grip on the thread of life

May this year be filled with blessings and joy, may we care for others, and may the realities of life not sadden our tomorrows

Naj said...

Hi David,

I just dropped Sima a line. she is interesting. Couldn't get to Niki's site yet. Will do that.

Yes I thought Azadeh's letter was very interesting too. While I was totally struck dumb by the untimely geture of the IRI, I had chosen to stay quiet about it, mainly because of silence from Iran. I just couldn't understand why they arrested the protest. This surely was not the FIRST protest by Iranian women; and especially given the international scruitiny ... so, Azadeh's letter made thing a bit clear. I hope all readers will read her entire letter.

Thanks for dropping by, See you around.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

A good news story for a change. Young Kevin Yourdkhani and his Iranian-born parents have been released from an American jail and are now in Canada.

Kevin's Story

Naj said...

Quasar, thank you!

I have to admit, the table was set by a King, my king Quasra! When it comes to doing delicate things, I leave the tasks to my husband. :)

In our house, I am the rustic nomade, he is the refined prince.

I cooked the aash though :)

goatman said...

A beautiful setting fit for kings and queens.
I didn't know for sure that persians were into poetry but it doesn't surprise me. It seems it takes cultures many centuries to develop the ability to cherish beauty and words over things and striving. I also love your word lettering although I could not hope to learn a language at my age! Perhaps a few letters for me to practice with ink and brush?
Thanks for visiting you are always welcome.

Id it is said...

The 'haft seen' was a visual delight and the 'aash reshteh' looked delicious., especially to someone suffering sub zero temperatures!
Thanks for sharing.

Fleming said...

Naj, after seeing those photographs, how am I going to live without that food? Is there some way I can convert to being Persian so I can enjoy Norooz next year?

Mystic Rose said...

looks delicious! tell me, is persian food a lot different from turkish?

Mystic Rose said...

and this recipe..sounds simple..:)).
let me try it!