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Nowruz - Spring Festival of Ancient Persia brings deliciousness....

Nowruz begins at the stroke of the vernal equinox, when the sun crosses the equator. This year it came early in the morning of March 21. When the equinox comes, millions of families of Iranian descent gather around a ceremonial table known as the haftseen.

Tomorrow will be the last day - and each of the 7 foods, bearing names starting with S - would have been consumed in various dishes.... for Love, Luck, Health and Light -- How lovely is that?

  • Sabzeh: Some kind of sprout or grass that will continue to grow in the weeks leading up to the holiday, for rebirth and renewal
  • Senjed: Dried fruit, ideally a sweet fruit from an abundantly producing tree, for love
  • Sib: Apples, for beauty and health
  • Seer: Garlic, for medicine and taking care of oneself
  • Samanu: A sweet pudding, for wealth and fertility
  • Serkeh: Vinegar, for the patience and wisdom that comes with aging
  • Sumac: A Persian spice made from crushed sour red berries, for the sunrise of a new day

And of course Navoz, is never complete with this traditional dish:
Sabzi Polo va Mahi (Herbed rice and fish, serves 6)
  • 3 cups basmati rice.
  • 1 cup dill, chopped.
  • 1 cup chives (or you can use the green part of green onions or leek), chopped.
  • 1 1/2  cup cilantro, chopped.
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped.
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic.
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • 4 tbsp butter.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Canola oil.
  • Fried fish (see Mahi instructions at bottom).
  • Wash the rice until the water is clear.
  • After the rice is washed, cover with eight cups of warm water and 1 1/2 tbsp. salt. Allow the rice to soak for at least 30 minutes. The longer it soaks the more flavourful and fluffy the rice will be.
  • Fill a large non-stick pot 3/4 full with water with 1 tbsp. salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Drain the soaking rice and add to the pot of boiling water. Turn down the heat slightly to medium-high (it should still be boiling) and boil for seven minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the dill, chives, cilantro and parsley to the water and simmer for about two minutes and then drain in a strainer.
  • Clean out and dry your pot. Pour enough canola oil in your pot to just cover the bottom.
  • Using a spatula, add a layer of rice to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with a little garlic and cinnamon. 
  • Add the rice in layers forming a sort of pyramid (about four layers total). In between each layer, sprinkle some of the garlic and cinnamon. You can also add an extra dash of ground saffron on the top if you desire. Pour 1/3 cup water over the top of the rice and the butter.
  • Using the back of a wooden spoon, poke three holes in the rice. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to medium-low and take a clean dish towel (or a double layer of paper towel) and cover the lid of the pot. Let the rice steam for 30-40 minutes. When the rice is done, use a spatula to gently sprinkle the rice into a serving dish. 

Mahi (Pan-Fried White Fish)

  • 3 large fillets of white fish cut into 6 pieces (skin on or off depending on your preference).
  • 1/4 tsp. ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp. boiling water.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper. Pour enough canola oil into a large frying pan so that there is a 1/4 inch of oil at the bottom.  Heat the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot put the fish in the pan.(do not crowd the pan).
  • Cook the first side until golden and crispy (about 5-6 minutes). Flip over and cook the second side until golden (about four minutes). Drain on paper towel.
This fish is traditionally served with wedges of Seville Orange (use lemons or limes if you can’t find any). Squeeze some of the juice over the fish just before eating. Enjoy!
recipe courtsesy - CBC News · Ensieh Namazikhah


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