Saffron Rice and Shiraz Wine: The Past & Present of Persian New Year
From fire jumping to colored eggs, Persian New Year (Nowruz) is an epic annual tradition for millions of people worldwide. A celebration of the return of spring, Nowruz is a food-laden affair, where thousand-year-old dishes are served each year on Persian tables. Join us as we chat with Iranian-born Merhnoosh Zamani and Kimia Ziafat as they prepare to ring in the new year of 1397 in Vancouver, British Columbia. We'll dig deep into the stories and legends that surround this great holiday, travelling back to the earliest years of the Persian Empire to sit in on the first Nowruz celebration with the mythical King Jamshid and then join King Cyrus the Great for a cup or two of Shiraz wine. Along the way, we'll taste a few classic Persian recipes, uncover the earliest traces of viniculture, and read some fantastically foodie poetry from medieval Persia.
Written and Produced by Laura Carlson
Technical Direction by Mike Portt
Research and Production Assistance by Leslie Javorski, Food Words
Kimia Ziafat (VP External, University of British Columbia Persian Club)
There are many delicious Nowruz recipes to choose from, but here are a few savory and sweet classics you can try at home
Chickpea Cookes aka Nan-e Nokhodchi
Find the Recipe at Ahead of Thyme
Delicious and delicate, these cookies are a wonderful not-to-sweet treat perfect for Nowruz. Instead of wheat flour, the cookies use chickpea flour (making it gluten free!), spiced with delicious cardamom, rose water, and topped with pistachios.
Asheh Reshteh aka Persian Noodle Soup
Find the recipe at My Persian Kitchen
Persian cuisine is known for its wonderful soups. This thick soup (known as ash) is a fantastic and hearty vegetarian meal. Using fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and mint, a slow simmering mixtures of lentils, red beans, and chickpeas makes this a one pot meal! Don't forget the reshteh, the thin Persian noodles that give the dish its name. Serve with fried onions and kashk (Persian whey or, in a pinch, yogurt) and fresh baked Persian bread.
The Persian History of Wine
Did Persian King Jamshid plant the first grape vines? Where did wine come from? Learn more about the earliest traces of viniculture with Dr. Patrick McGovern's book, Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture.
The Origins of Wine: From Persia to Georgia
Ancient Persia was a center for wine making (and wine drinking), respected throughout the world! And, for much of history, it was believed that Persia had been among the first cultures to practice viniculture. Although archaeological evidence points to wine drinking in Persia at least 3,000 years ago, only in 2017 archaeologists recovered pottery sherds in the nearby country of Georgia that suggest a new (and earlier!) origin story for wine.
Discover more about the history of wine in both Persia and Georgia with these great resources: