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Celebrating Nowruz

John and I were very excited to come over to Tara's house for a special Persian New Year feast. Tara spared no expense: she made two kinds of rice, two meat dishes, two salads, and my new favourite dessert.

Persian New Year

Tara's Haft Chin sat at the end of the table - with beautiful flowers, Persian poetry and all of the symbols for  the sky, the earth, fire, water, plants, animals and fertility.

Persian New Year

I absolutely loved the rice with barberries.  Sweet, salty, and crunchy - this is by far the best rice I've had.  I love how beautifully she presented the rice dishes and how she got the outside of the rice perfectly crispy.  I could happily eat this with every meal of the day. Persian New Year

The chicken dish Tara made was incredibly moist chicken (Zereshk Polow) in a gorgeous bright yellow turmeric sauce.  I always tell Tara she must be so gorgeous because of all the turmeric she eats (it is an incredible anti-inflammatory). Persian New Year

The other rice was this perfectly executed dish with a crispy bread topping. Persian New Year

In the big pot was a standout meat and eggplant stew.  Tara knows I love eggplant, so she combined a recipe for Khoresh Bademjan (eggplant stew) and Khoresh Gheimeh (a meat stew traditionally topped with French fries). Persian New Year

What a feast.  We enjoyed it all with a traditional tomato and cucumber salad and a salty cucumber yogurt salad that enhanced every dish.  I cleaned my plate and couldn't keep my fork out of any dish.  I can't believe Tara, an incredibly talented actress, is also a secret Persian Top Chef. I told her we should open a restaurant, and she said "well let's not go that far..."

Persian New Year

The night was topped off with my new favourite dessert.  Saffron rice pudding.  I am a rice pudding lover to begin with, but add some saffron, pistachios and a whole new flavour palette and I am weak in the knees.  I can't tell you how happy I was when Tara said she made a whole extra dish for me to take home (and even though I was full, I did have an extra serving before bed, because I could). Persian New Year

I will never forget this meal and the beautiful celebration we had to celebrate the Persian New Year and the arrival of Spring.  I feel very blessed to have such wonderful friends and to get to eat such amazing food!

I'd say the new year is off to a very good start.

Here are some of the recipes Tara made (she learned them from her mom, so pointed me to similar recipes on her favourite Persian food blog - which I am now also in love with):

Rice with Barberries (Zereshk Polow)

Eggplant Stew ( Khoresh Bademjan) (Tara's version was a combination of this and Khoresh Gheimeh)

Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard)

Happy Nowruz!