Now, many of you are wondering why I said Happy New Year. It’s not January 1st, so it’s not the regular calendar New Year. It is not the Chinese New Year, so what is it?
Today is the first day of spring! And on the Iranian Calendar, it is the New Year! (There are actually many different New Years that we don’t often hear about. I just chose to write about this one because it’s a bit easier to remember and there aren’t notices everywhere like for the Chinese New Year! I mean, First Day Of Spring! What a nice day to have a New Year!)
I’m always looking for a reason to celebrate. *wink*
And to celebrate the New Year, what better way than a traditional New Year’s Dish and some Iranian inspired decor! (Yes, that means some Persian rugs! Nothing more classic. Plus, I love rugs, if you couldn’t tell.)
First, Food beFORe thought. ;D
We’re going to show a traditional New Year’s dish in the Iranian culture. Sabzi Polo ba Mahee. Basically Fish and Persian Herbed Rice.
4 c. Basmati rice
4 tbsp canola oil
1 large piece lavash bread or lettuce
1/2 c. scallion tops (greens only), washed & chopped fine
1 1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, washed & chopped fine
1 bunch (4-5 stalks) green garlic, washed but left whole
1 c. cilantro, washed & chopped fine
1 1/2 c. dill, washed & chopped fine
- Soak the rice in well-salted water for a few hours before cooking, changing the water once towards the end of the soak.
- Fill a large, heavy pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.
- Add the rice (and the water it was soaking in), and bring it back up to a boil.
- Stir gently a couple of times, and keep an eye on the grains – as they begin to turn translucent on the ends, occasionally take one out and chew it – you’re looking for something slight on the crunchier side of “al dente”, but chewable.
- Drain the rice in a colander, and run some water over it to rinse off the excess salt.
- Add the oil to your pot, along with 1/2 cup of water or milk (to make tahdeeg), and lay the lavash bread on the bottom in one layer (an alternative to lavash bread is lettuce)
- Begin adding the rice and herbs into your pot, but “mounding” everything so that you have a pyramid of sorts at the end. You want to lightly “fluff” the herbs into the rice to incorporate as you go along. The garlic you want to lay about halfway through the mound in one or two layers as needed.
- With the handle of a wooden spoon, make a few holes around the mound of rice to create “steam vents”
- Wrap the lid of the pot in a clean kitchen towel and secure it, ensuring that the towel is well out of the way of any flame.
- Drizzle a couple of tablespoons water or oil over the top of the rice, and put the lid on (the towel will help absorb the steam so water doesn’t drip back onto the rice).
- Cook on high heat for 5-8 minutes until you see steam, and hear a sizzling/crackling coming from the bottom of the pot.
- Reduce to medium, and cook for another 15-20 minutes, keeping an ear and nose on things – you don’t want to smell smoke, but you do want to hear light crackling/popping.
- Finally, reduce again to medium-low, and cook a final 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when you smell a “toastiness” from the tahdeeg on the bottom, and the top grains of rice are tender.