Chaper 1. Nostalgia
I imagine the streets of Tehran at this time. It’d take you half an hour to walk 100mt and I’m not exaggerating. Everywhere’s overcrowded. Few days are left to the new year and everybody’s out shopping. Green sprouts of wheat and lentils have invaded every possible corner of every possible shop and all the angles of the streets. There are so many tanks and bowls full of gold fish everywhere you go that you might wonder if you’re walking in a huge aquarium. There’s the smell of Samanu in the air, a wheat pudding (which I dislike!) that is an essential part of Haft Seen Table. You can’t walk by without being hit by the aroma of countless flowers, specially hyacinth, narcissus and lilies. It doesn’t matter what the weather feels like. You’d know by sure, that Winter is over and Spring has arrived.
That’s why we’re celebrating. In the most romantic and naturalistic view of the world, the Persian new year begins when the Earth wakes up, after a one-year journey around the sun, exactly at the moment of March Equinox. So the new year could begin at 8.23.03 am or 6.04.49 pm or just any other time. And most importantly, it occurs at the same exact moment in the whole world.
Chapter 2. REBIRTH
Norouz, this truly beautiful ancient festival that has been celebrated for more than three thousand years in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan & many other countries, is directly connected to astronomical and seasonal events. And again, different cultures and civilizations have interpreted these natural happenings into different celebrations of Spring. (This explains the similarities between Jewish & Christian Easter with Norouz & other Spring celebrations. Remember when I told you about the similarities of Christmas & other winter celebrations?)
The winter solstice feasts celebrate the light and the end of darkness, while the Spring feats, in all forms and names, celebrate rebirth, resurrection, a new life, a new day. That’s what “Norouz” literally means in Persian; A new day.
Chapter 3. Graduation & Persian Food Bloggers Round-Up!
I swear I tried so hard to write a short post. But I just can’t shut up about the beauty of these ancient pagan-and-non rituals. As I told you, I am working so hard on my final thesis and I am graduating on March 28th. That’s why this year I’m skipping the detailed preparations for the new year. However, at the cost of ruining my tight schedule, I couldn’t not take part in the Persian Food Bloggers‘ round-up.
I am so glad I have known them and collaborated with them since last October. It’s almost the only celebration I get this year. I strongly suggest you check out the links at the bottom of this post for delicious, Persian-inspired recipes to get in the mood of celebrating Spring, Norouz and the new year. (1394!)
Chapter 4. Persian Chia Seeds Drink with a Twist
This simple and delightful Chia seeds drink actually has got nothing to do with Norouz! It’s usually served on ice as a summer drink. Long before chia seeds were cool & trendy in the healthy-eating world, people used them in Iran —I think exclusively— to make this drink. It’s a basic Persian syrup. Water, sugar, rose water. There’s little Chia seeds in the drink. It shouldn’t become a smoothy or a porridge; It’s just a beverage.
You can actually make this drink in both a hot or cold version. All you need is a teaspoon of chia seeds for each portion, some brewed saffron, a drop of rose water, your favorite sweetener (I used Nabaat, Persian crystallized saffron sugar but you can use raw brown sugar or raw honey), a slice of lemon/lime and some peppermint. It’s basically infused water with floating moist chia seeds. You might think that there are too many aromas in this drink, but don’t worry. The only ones you should really feel are the saffron and rose water. Lemon and mint/peppermint just add a note of freshness and bring your drink to life.
The lovely lady appearing these photos is my dear friend Maryam, who turned her beautiful home into a perfect set for this shoot.
- 2 heap tsp chia seeds
- 2 cups (500ml) fresh water (or hot water, if you like your drink hot) + 1 tbsp hot water
- 2 sticks of saffron crystalized sugar (or 2 tsp of raw honey/maple syrup/raw brown sugar)
- 1/8 tsp of powdered saffron
- 1/4 tsp of rose water
- 4 thin slices of lemon/lime
- a small handful of peppermint
- Melt the saffron in 1 tbsp of hot water in a small cup and cover with a saucer. Set to rest while preparing the rest.
- Add the chia seeds in equal parts to your glasses. Add the water and rose water. Stir and let it rest a couple of minutes until the chia seeds swell.
- After some minutes add the brewed saffron and your sweetener. If using Nabat on stick (crystalized sugar), serve it on the side as garnish.
- Drop two thin slices of lemon in each glass.
- Garnish with some peppermint leaves.
- Stir and enjoy.
Coming from Iran, she mostly develops her recipes by combining the aromas of the middle east with the flavors of the Mediterranean, specially Italy, where she has found her second home.