Iranian Food Writers on Persian New Year and Norouz, & “Sabzi Polo Mahi” (Herby Pilaf & Turmeric Fried Fish)

Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-13

I used to absolutely hate fish as a child. While I was typically a good eater, I would not so much as touch fish. On ordinary days, it was not much of a problem: Not so many Iranian dishes are based on seafood, since only two small parts of the cat-shaped country at the north and south touch the sea. But on Norooz, the Iranian celebration that marks the beginning of the new year on the first day of spring, my fish-hating habit meant disaster.

On March 20th, the last day of the year, Iranians around the world will eat Sabzi Polo ba Mahi, a fragrant pilaf with herbs (like chives, parsley, dill, cilantro, fenugreek) and sometimes fresh garlic, served alongside fish. The type of fish and its exact preparation varies from region to region and among families. In the northern parts of Iran, the Caspian White Fish is a renowned favorite, while in the south, fish come from the Persian Gulf and strong flavors like tamarind are added.

Back in my childhood days, I ended up eating my herby pilaf with a sad frittata, hastily made by my fed-up mom who had lost hope of feeding me the precious fish. It wasn’t exactly the most propitious start of the new year.

This is how the story of how I recreate recipes and rituals of Norouz in Rome begins in an article commissioned for Food52. Please read the whole story here and tell me what you think. 

Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-2

Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-11
Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-17

Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-3
Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-24
Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-10

Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-9
Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-21
Persian Herby Pilaf and Fish - Sabzi Polo Mahi | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-16

This year, I am really happy that major food publishings have dedicated articles, recipes and stories to the Persian new year and Norouz. The truth is that this beautiful, ancient and rich celebration that is celebrated by some 190 million people celebrate (from north of India to Turkey, with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and other countries in the middle), has been so much in the shadow.

My post for the annual roundup of the Persian food bloggers is a homage to the Iranian food writers around the world who have taken the responsibility of talking about our beautiful Iran, that is oh so much more than a banned country. So This is not one of my long posts with the long, multi-chapter story (you can read that on Food52), but a list of links for your Norouz reading and recipes. You can also find the recipe of my Sabzi Polo Mahi, the national dish of Norouz in the bottom. So enjoy reading, Happy 1396 and Sale No Mobarak! Continue reading

One year of Lab Noon, the Virtual Birthday Party, Friuty Birthday Cake for Summer & a GIVE-AWAY!

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -3Lab Noon officially turned one on June 19th. I remember how very confused, extremely tired and incredibly excited I was to launch the blog after many months of work. The blog was supposed to be written three languages, English, Italian and Persian. I decided to omit Persian after a short while. My first ever recipe quickly became an all time hit! Though now looking back I see many things that I would’ve done differently. Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -9

It’s been an amazing year. I have said long thanks to all supporters in the invitation to this virtual birthday party. Here I want to thank all these lovely and talented food bloggers, who have accepted my invitation and prepared lovely cakes/dessert to share with you for #LabNoonsBirthdayParty. Some of these bloggers have been inspirational to me even before I started blogging and some I discovered in this one of year blogging. Some of them I have met in person or know them more personally in some way, some were pure strangers that reached me and joined the party. I am so glad I’ve known you all. Big, acclaimed ones, and new comers. I wish I could hug you one by one, and taste your cakes. Thank you everyone, really. 

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -11Bellow you will find a list of all the food bloggers who have taken part in Lab Noon’s vitual birthday party and their recipes. (I have tried my best to be organized and get the right link to everyone, but if you get a error please let me know and I’ll fix it). Lab Noon's (virtual) Birthday Party-1-2

Secondly, I want to thank once more Paola from Pauta Pot who generously gives these two beautiful, handmade, birdy cups as a give-away for our party. You can win these cups simply by writing a comment under this post, about the recipes and Lab Noon’s birthday. Then I will extract a name randomly and we will send you those cups! Please remember that  free shipping is available only in Europe.

The Recipes of the Guest Food Bloggers for Lab Noon’s Birthday Party (in alphabetical order)

Lab Noon’s Fruity Birthday Cake for Summer

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -16
Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -18

My idea of home made cake is something simple and rustic. Of course I would love a proper, nice & fancy cake (like many of the recipes above really put me to shame for how beautiful and perfect they are). But cakes that I like to make are simple, and very homy, filled with nutrient ingredient, so that with a sweet treat you can more than just empty calories. Recently I am always using more fruit in the batter and on topping of cakes that I make. Inspired by some natural jams and confections that use apples or apple juice as sweeteners, I have reduced the amount of sugar in my cakes dramatically and I have substitute it with apples! Both apple puree or grated apple work. Apple puree is cooked (so more time need), more smooth, but can also be much more watery. Grated apples brown easily (no matter how much lemon juice you add), some pieces could be bigger than others, but it gives a very nice texture and moistness to the cake. Continue reading

You’re All Invited to Lab Noon’s (Virtual) Birthday Party!

Web
This is not a usual post and there’s no recipes. This is an invitation to a (virtual) party!

I can’t believe it! In a short while, it will be a year since I officially launched Lab Noon. I had been working on the blog actually for many months before I could finally present it to the world. 

I feel so blessed and thankful for everything that has been affiliated with this blog for the past year. A year, which on many other levels, hasn’t been the easiest and/or the happiest of my life. And in those hard moments, whenever I concentrated and created something, cooked or baked, shot it, and shared it with you, you always gave me a warm welcome. You who read me, like what I do, love my photos, cook my recipes. You who take your time to leave an encouraging comment, Thank you!

All you talented photographers, bloggers, cooks & designers, who do a plenty of amazing work, and inspire me to do more, thank you! When I first had the idea of creating this blog I barely knew a tiny fraction of all these people, their food, their photos and artwork and their writing. But as I started to walk this path, thankfully I discovered more and more that there are so many interesting realities out there (and not the ones on TV, heaven forbids), who appreciate food, in a new way, or in a traditional way; and more importantly as a way to bring people together and create new opportunities in every way.
Lab Noon's (virtual) Birthday Party-1

Thank you so much SAVEUR magazine for choosing me as a finalist in the Blog Awards and thank you much more for having voted me. It felt like a million dollars to have the name of Lab Noon among those fabulous bloggers who are really some of the bests in this business. I wish I could’ve been with them in person during the celebrations in NY early this month.  Thank you also Yahoo Food & Food52 for featuring my work. I didn’t imagine in my wildest dream to appear in these websites in the first year of Lab Noon. 

Words are not enough for me to say how I’ve appreciated all of your support. That’s why I thought I’d create a little something. A (virtual) birthday party for Lab Noon. The official birthday of Lab Noon is June 19th, and I would’ve wanted to celebrate it on the June 21st to overlap the official beginning of summer. But due to some technical troubles (including a dead macbook pro, I know, boohoo) we’re postponing the party to July 8th. And I want you to bring a cake (or a dessert, if you prefer).  Here’s the official invitation:

The party has two sections: one for the readers and one for fellow food bloggers.

The readers:
  1. Prepare a cake or dessert (natural & seasonal recipes are appreciated)
  2. Take a picture.
  3. Share it on your social media with #LabNoonsBirthdayParty with a brief recipe, and I will share them on Lab Noon’s social media.
Food Bloggers:
  1. Email me at collab[at]labnoon.com and let me know that you wanna join the party.
  2. Create a new post on your blog to go live on July 8th with the recipe of the cake/dessert you wanna bring to the party. It should link to Lab Noon and other blogs to participate at the roundup. 
  3. Give me the permalink of your blog post maximum by July 6th. (I will make a google doc with your names and the links which will make the link love easy on our blogs.)
  4. Share your/our material on your social media with #LabNoonsBirthdayParty.

There’s a give-away too!

Continue reading