Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Norouz Away From Home

This year as the date of Norouz (the Iranian New Year, on March 20th this year) approached, I found myself becoming progressively more and more homesick. Last year I celebrated Norouz with a cake, but this year I had bigger ambitions to tackle. I knew I wouldn't be able to recreate the traditional Norouz spread that my mother creates every year, but with some encouragement from my friends, I decided to at least try. 

The traditional Iranian meal to serve on Norouz is sabzi polo mahi, herbed rice with fish. Never having made this before, I was a little intimidated. I pestered my mom with questions, and she tried to walk me through her recipe, but it was ultimately too vague for me to try and follow. After some googling, I found that plenty of other bloggers had tackled sabzi polo before. One of the best recipes I found was from Tannaz in Los Angeles, who explained the whole process so clearly, I felt silly for fretting in the first place! After recently checking her blog, it seems others from around the world flocked to her blog, searching for the perfect sabzi polo recipe.

I won't repost the recipe, but you can find it on Tannaz's blog. The final product was quite delicious, even though I didn't add as much oil as I should have and the rice was a bit too dry. The rice was so fluffy and soft, and the addition of all the herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, dill, and chives because I couldn't find fenugreek) made it so flavorful. I served the rice with oven-baked white fish that I seasoned with just safron, salt, and pepper. My apologies, dear readers, but the fish was devoured before I had a chance to photograph it! 

In addition to her sabzi polo recipe, my mother also shared with me a recipe for a dish to make with the leftover herbs. The sabzi polo calls for 2 cups of the herb mixture, so it's quite easy to go herb crazy. With the leftovers, I made this yummy appetizer, called kuku (funny name, huh?). To make the kuku, you just mix the chopped herbs with eggsand cook on the stovetop, like a thick omlette. I mixed 1 cup of the leftover herb mixture (parsley, dill, chives) with 2 eggs, 2 shallots, 1 clove garlic, and salt and pepper. I served the kuku while as an appetizer to the sabzi polo mahi and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Even though it wasn't the more traditional Norouz I'm used to, this year's new year was a beautiful opportunity to come together and share Iranian food with new loved ones.


Manggy said...

Happy Norouz! I can't believe it's easier to find fenugreek in Manila than there :) I hope you're feeling much better now..

tannaz sassooni said...

so glad to see my recipe worked out! your sabzi polo looks great. i froze my leftover herbs to make another batch of sabzi polo later on, but making kuku is a great idea. happy new year to you in france! =)

Sara said...

Mark, I'm sure I could have found it if I really looked, but I took the easy way out and just ignored it, haha!

Tannaz, thanks again for posting such a clear recipe, it really turned out much better than I had anticipated, considering my lack of experience with sabzi polo.

Nayereh said...

Sara JOON!

This looks gorgeous! I've made sure to show off your site to my family members to show how talented my friends are.

I would have loved to see the fish, oven baked? It seems everyone here in Iran fries it like MAD. But with a little sour orange squeezed on top, yum!

Miss you, this looks great!

Chowhound said...

This is the second year I celebrated Now Rooz. A colleague of mine is originally Iran and he puts together a lunch for everybody with 2 types of rice dishes (jeweled rice, rice with dill & fava beans) baba ganoush, humous, lamb and chicken kebabs, lentil stew, dolmades and a very fragrant cucumber, pepper, herbs and onion salad. I really love the food. Everybody looks forward to his yearly Now Rooz lunch, including me.

Anonymous said...

That looks really delicious especially the kuku !!! I wish I had made it for norooz too now.