Well, we don't celebrate Nuroz but I get to see it celebrated all round me with pomp and fervour and what interests me further is the fact that it has a close connection to sankranti, holi and ugadi and definitely its influence found its way through the route of history to India.However the fact that all these great cultures that celebrate their uniqueness are all bound together way back from ancient times and speak of one cuture and that is the culture of humanity.
Nuroz is celebrated with the arrival of spring which marks new beginnings and it happens to be the first day of the persian new year, you will find great material on this on You tube.The Persian people serve a mixture of dry fruits, nuts and berries which reflect the different tastes of sweet tart etc to symbolise the flavours of life and it surely reminds me of ugadi pachchadi, they serve sherbet and a sweet pudding and display the hafta sheen seven elements like coins,goldfish,green sprouts, vinegar, oleaster fruit and hyacinth flowers symbolising prosperity abundance fertility,patience and new beginnings.They also jump over tiny bonfires they light and it resembles the bhogi bonfires.
There is a great influence of Persian cuisine in India and one that translates to my personal experience is the zard pulao(rose sherbet, gulkhand,nan khatai).During my childhood, it was one thing I detested becoz I could not imagine eating a rice pulao that is sweet.But now I make it sometimes out of nostalgia and yes ironically my kids don't like it either.This is the first part of the post - rose petal cordial and gulkhand come in my next post, you can see them in the picture and I have also put up a mixture of dry fruits, nuts sweet candy and dried cranberries and cherries in the persian style of serving.
This recipe belongs to my great grand aunt and I still remember the beautiful urdu handwriting in which she wrote it down in an old green diary.I still don't know her real name except that she was called pyari jaan at home.She was a fighter married and divorced by the tender age of 12 my grandmother, her sister welcomed her in her home and educated her and she went on to work in the public works department of A.P.She died on the new year of 2000 in a tragic bus accident while on duty.She had magic in her hands whether fabric painting on sarees, gardening and filling up the garden with blooming roses out of plant cuttings in every color,to cooking great dishes and making fabulous pickles she did it all in her spare time as if to forget the memories of her past.Stern on the outside she could be very kind (I remember how she saved a cat which slipped and fell into our backyard well in a severe rainstorm in the night with the help of a pail and a torch light,mum and I had joined her much to our horror at the sound of the shrieking cat ...well thats another story). I miss her so much right now.
Zard Pulao Recipe also known as meetha pulao/meethay chawal/zarda
1 cup rice
1/2 -3/4 cup sugar(depending on the level of your sweet tooth)
1 cup milk
A pinch of saffron
1 tbs each of cashenuts almonds and pistachios
2 tbs of raisins
a few drops of kewra(screw pine) water
5 green cardamoms
5 tbs ghee
Heat half the ghee ina pan and toast the nuts and raisins and keep aside.Boil milk and add safrron strands to it until the milk thickens and turns a mellow yellow and now take it off the stove.Cook rice until 3/4 done and drain.Now heat the remaining ghee in a pan add the clove and cardamoms, when fragrant add the nuts and raisins reserving a few for garnish.Add the thickened saffron milk,sugar kewra water and the rice and let it cook until dry and the grains are apart and well cooked.Garnish with slivers of toasted nuts and serve.