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Shopping for Persian New Year

Nowrūz, meaning "The New Day", is the Persian New Year. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendars.  The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated every year and is when Iranian families get together to celebrate.  This year it will celebrated this Monday, March 19th.

Traditional food is served, and families gather around the table, usually with the Haft Seen - a traditional table setting including seven specific items all starting with the letter seen (س) in the Persian alphabet. Haft-Seen was originally called Haftchin (Haftĉin) derived from the words Chin (چین) and Haft (هفت) meaning "to place" seven items.

The "Haft Chin" items are: a mirror, symbolizing the sky, an apple, symbolizing the earth, candles, symbolizing fire, Golab (rose water), symbolizing water, Sabzeh (wheat or barley sprouts) symbolizing plants, fish symbolizing animals and painted eggs symbolizing humans and fertility.

Iranian grocery store

My beautiful friend Tara asked me to help her shop for Persian New Year this year.  Tara is a very good friend of mine who recently wrote, produced and starred in her one-woman show Mahmoud, about Iranian immigrants growing up in Canada.  This play made me laugh, cry, and sit in stunned silence.  The woman has talent and is very proud of her roots.

It was an honour to shop with Tara for this special occasion.  We went up to North York to the strip of Iranian stores that were humming with people shopping for Persian New Year.

Iranian grocery store

Tara stocked up on items for her Haft-Seen, ingredients for her dinner Monday night, as well as some of her favourite traditional goods.

Iranian grocery store Iranian grocery store Iranian grocery store Tara Iranian grocery store

I personally stocked up on cardamom tea, lime juice, feta cheese, squash seeds, pomegranate fruit leather and spices.  Tara also gifted me the most amazing olives I've ever tasted that are covered in a mix of herbs and crushed walnuts as my Perisan New Year gift.

Now for the best part? I've been invited to Tara's to celebrate Persian New Year on Monday and she'll be cooking two traditional dishes.  I am already feeling very blessed Nowrūz.

If we're lucky, I might even get her to share her recipes...