Haft Seen Photos Nowruz 2016

It's Nowruz and it's nature's time for renewal and rejuvenation. I wish you and your family a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year filled with joy and love. To continue my annual tradition of sharing photos of our haft seen table, here are pictures of the sofreh (the spread of seven S's) representing a symbolic meaning such as rebirth, patience, beauty, health, prosperity and love.

Sabzeh o Sonbol: Representing rebirth and spring

Senjed: Representing love

Somagh: Representing the spice of life

Seer: Representing health

Samanoo: Representing Patience 
Seeb: Representing beauty

Serkeh: Representing age 

Mahi Germez: Representing life

Noghl: Sweets

Poems from the Divan of Hafez

Cooper loves flowers

Beautiful haft seen table by my friend Farzaneh joon

My friend Roya joon's Sofreh haft seen 

An old picture of Khanoum joon, my maternal grandmother, at her haft seen spread circa 1960 in Tehran

Eidetoon Mobarak! Happy Nowruz! Happy Spring!

Quick & Easy Shirini Zaban - Zaban Puff Pastry (Nowruz 1395)

The air is thick with excitement in anticipation of نوروز - Nowruz. Preparation for Persian New Year starts weeks before the spring equinox with khaneh tekany (spring cleaning) and growing sabzeh (seeds) for the haft seen table. It has been many years since I have lived in my home country. Yet all it takes is a smell or a taste to bring even those long forgotten memories back into my mind's eyes. The Persian New Year celebration gives me a chance to relive those many memories of family, togetherness, the haftseen spread, and celebrations.

It's time to start thinking about the Nowruz dinner menu. The Nowruz dinner is marked by a number of traditional dishes that are known for this occasion such as: kookoo sabzi, sabzi polow, mahi, ash reshteh, reshteh polow, etc. I have put together a typical Nowruz menu of my favorite recipes.

There are many different Nowruz sweets available in bakeries all over Iran. However, if you happen to live where you do not have access to any of those good Iranian bakeries then, like me, you would have to make your own homemade Nowruz desserts. The sugar sprinkled, golden, light and flaky shirini zaban (زبان - zaban means tongue in Persian) is a connection to my childhood -- when I remember having them for special occasions. For this recipe you'll need one sheet of puff pastry. If you have the time and patience you can make your own homemade puff pastry from scratch. However, if you find that to be too time-consuming then head to the freezer section of your local grocery store and buy a Package of frozen puff pastry. While there's nothing like a homemade pastry, I took the easy route this time and used a store-bought frozen puff pastry.

Shirini Zaban with Frozen Puff Pastry 
Yield: 20 pieces

1 (14-ounce) box of frozen puff pastry, thawed  (I used Dufour puff pastry)
1-2 tablespoons sugar

For the syrup

1/3 cup honey ( I used clover honey)
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon rosewater

Flour for dusting the surface
Crushed pistachios and  powdered sugar for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the honey with water and rosewater, mix well. Set aside.
  4. Unfold the puff pastry on your lightly floured counter and dust the top of the pastry with a little flour. 
  5. Using a soft pastry brush, lightly brush the pastry with honey syrup.
  6. Using a cookie cutter cut out the pastry into zaban shape or using a sharp blade cut the pastry into rectangular pieces.
  7. Place the cut out puff pastries on the baking sheet leaving a little space between them.
  8. Using a knife make a lengthwise light cut through the center of each zaban.
  9. Sprinkle each zaban generously with sugar.
  10. Place the sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden, cooked through and puffed.
  11. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  12. Apply another light film of honey syrup over the pastries. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Serve with freshly brewed hot tea.

Enjoy! Happy Nowruz!

Ash-e Anar - Persian Pomegranate Soup with Fresh Herbs and Mini Meatballs

I've let many winters and pomegranate seasons go by without writing about آش انار ash-e anar. However, this time as I watch the icy snow flakes rapidly hit the windows and pile up all around the house I'm thinking it's time to post a recipe for this hearty and tasty ash-e anar. The idea of making a warm ash on a cold day or when you feel a little under the weather and need a pick-me-up was passed down to me by my mother. I make ash reshteh all the time and chances are if you open my refrigerator you'll find a bowl tucked in somewhere. Not to mention, after all these years living in America, it's only recently that I've been finding large, ruby-red, juicy pomegranates in the market by where I live.

You can make this soup with brown or green lentils if you are not a fan of yellow split peas. If you choose to use لپه lapeh (yellow split peas) I would suggest boiling them for 7-10 minutes on medium heat, remove any of the foam that comes to the surface, drain and then add to the stew. When making the کوفته قلقلی koofteh ghelgheli -mini meatballs try to make them as tiny as possible. They should be easily scooped up by a tablespoon. If you find the recipe a little sour you can add a little sugar to the stew. This recipe serves 6-8 people but if you want to make less you can easily cut the amount of ingredients in half. And I think you should definitely serve this ash with نعنا داغ nana dagh - hot dried mint and oil mixture.

Serves 6-8

1 pound ground meat (lamb, beef or turkey)
1 cup rice, rinse well, drain
1/2 cup yellow split peas, rinse well
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch parsley, remove the stems, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 bunch scallion, green parts only, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses, more if you like
Turmeric Powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dried mint
2-3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Vegetable oil

  1. Combine the yellow split peas and  2 cups of water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming the foam from the surface, lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onion and cook until until golden brown, add the minced garlic, saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, stir well.
  3. Add the rice, split peas, and 8 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes with the lid slightly ajar, stirring occasionally. 
  4. In the meantime, combine the meat with 2-3 tablespoons of the chopped vegetables, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Take small piece of meat mixture and form into meatballs. Continue shaping until all the meat is used.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the meatballs until brown on all sides. 
  6. Add the meatballs, pomegranate molasses, chopped vegetables, salt and pepper to the pot. cover and simmer on low heat for another 30-40 minutes.
  7. In a small pot, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, add a pinch of turmeric and 2 tablespoons of dried mint, stir and remove from stove. 
Pour the ash into a large serving bowl, drizzle with nana dagh and garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.  Serve with warm bread.