Spring was late in Montreal this year but it finally got here – in full glory!
I am blessed with two old lilac trees on two sides of my backyard: one right next to my kitchen’s window and the other arching over our newly built deck. The heavenly omnipresent fragrance of my lilac flowers make May the happiest and calmest month of the year for me.
Only five days left till the Persian new year, Norooz, celebrated by some 187 million people across the globe on the first day of spring, this year on March 20th. And right now, in every Iranian’s household at least one person is quite busy (you know who that person is, right) – from shopping new cloths, to cleaning house to preparing haftsin table, tending to sabzeh and of course painting hard boiled eggs. Watch my brief video clips here here for a colorful introduction of Norooz celebration and here for a “very fast” preparation of Norooz table! Don’t forget to check out the links below for Norooz-special blogs by my friends at #PersianFoodBloggers.
From ancient time, dyeing and decorating eggs has been a significant symbol in many cultures around the world – from the Zoroastrian Norooz dating back to over 3000 years ago, to the Jewish Passover to the Christian Easter, eggs are painted in solid or multicolored often to symbolize rebirth. In my youth time, my older sisters used to dye Norooz eggs by wrapping them in color bleeding pieces of brightly colored cloths, tightly sewing them in and hard boiling them in salted water. The cooled eggs would then emerge from the wet cloths delicately colored and patterned. In my household too, we usually take the egg painting quite seriously, often going to some length to actually paint the eggs in detailed and complicated designs. Watch some of those here. Read the rest of this entry »
Sour orange نارنج also referred to as bitter orange is a variety of citrus tree native of Southeast Asia but widely used in the Middle East, parts of Europe and US. In my hometown Shiraz, almost every house with a backyard used to have a couple of sour orange trees which wore perfumed, white robe of blossoms in the spring and orange robe of fruit in early summer. The blossoms of sour orange, bahaar-e naaranj, were used to make sherbet and jams, or sundried to be mixed with loose, black tea. The fruit itself, too, has many culinary usages including for seasoning.
Here in Montreal, Iranian supermarkets carry sour orange right on time before the official spring season starts. Right on time I said because sour orange has a special spot both on our Norooz table as well as with the herbed-rice and fish that we serve on the first day of the Persian New Year, Norooz. Read the rest of this entry »
At any full and happy Persian sofreh or table, several side dishes should be present to complement the main dish, especially at supper time and most certainly with specific types of meals such as kotlet and any kind of mixed rice dishes. The most crucial and common sides to go with these dishes are small bowls of torshi, assortment of seasonal fresh herbs, radishes and scallions, and Shirazi salad.
Now, Torshi, ترشی, or torsu as it is called in Balkan and Middle Eastern cuisine, is basically diced fruits, vegetables and herbs marinated in vinegar and spices to be eaten with food in small portions as an appetizer and counterbalance to the greasy components of a meal. Read the rest of this entry »
Today is (almost) the shortest day of the year, which was followed by the longest night of the year, last night, Yalda. In term of daylight, today was 5 hours, 50 minutes shorter than June Solstice.
PS. To those of you who are following my blog through email notification, my apologies for the “Norooz” this week!! It was my mistake while fixing/ shoveling around broken old links and pictures.
Yalda, the Persian celebration of winter solstice, is around the corner. Hence the occasion for a special food blog entry – something representing red and orange colors of Yalda, something made with passion, and maybe pomegranate, to serve along with sweet-nuts mix, watermelon and persimmon as we get together with friends and family to bring to dawn the longest night of the year – the night before the beginning of winter, or the Yalda night.
For the first two weeks of October, my husband and I had a blast visiting Andes and remains of the ancient Inca civilization in and around Cusco, Peru: Stunning landscapes, magical lush valleys and foggy mountains, mind blowing stone work and engineering, delicious fresh food, colourful handicrafts, soothing music and of course a lot of history! A history almost too painful to hear of Spanish colonization demolishing the Inca Empire, looting their treasures, enslaving them and brutally suppressing resistance movements up to the 18th century!
Cusco, once Incas’ capital, has half a million population today and according to one of our tour guides 80% of the city’s economy depends on tourism. This includes not only food, lodging, entertainment, heritage businesses small and large, but also native women who make a living by knitting sweaters and hats out of Alpaca wool, and by dressing up in colorful clothes along with their Alpacas and baby goats to take pictures with tourists. Read the rest of this entry »