Once again Yalda, one of Iranian’s much loved and cherished celestial moments and rituals is round the corner. We celebrate Yalda on winter solstice on Dec. 20th as the longest and darkest night of the year by getting together, reciting poetry and feasting over a colorful spread of dried fruits and nuts, aajil, specific fruits namely pomegranate, persimmon and watermelon, cozy heartwarming dishes and lots of light, hope and energy to get through the long but increasingly brighter winter ahead. See my precious posts for Yalda night here and here.
The Persian “Pomegranate Soup” or ash-e anar آش انار, will forever resonate with me the excellent culinary fiction by the same name written by Marsha Mehran, an eloquent Iranian-Irish author who passed too soon but whose novels depicted Persian cuisine enchanting as a fairy-tale full of texture, fragrance and mystery always ready to haut, charm and welcome those unfamiliar with it. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
On the eve of the winter solstice, Iranians gather to celebrate Yalda and bring this longest night of the year to dawn by reciting Hafez or Sa’di poems, or listening to the stories of a wise grandparent. They do this while eating off-season fruits historically believed to invoke the divinities and secure the protection of the winter crop.
I vividly remember celebrating Yalda nights back home, because I felt so well fed on those nights, not on the spiritual foods of the poetry-reciting elders, but on the watermelon and pomegranates we had gone out of our way to find Needless to say, Yalda is well and alive among Iranians in diaspora as another rope to cling on to the far away home and culture. This song below, called “zemestoon” (winter) is one of my most favourite songs of the 70s; it is about bare gardens and trees and a lonely lover in the winter, accompanied by a beautiful clip of old Tehran in winter. Happy Yalda 2011 everyone!