Yalda

Hello lovelies, hope you’ve been well… I know I’ve been a bit tardy with my blog entry this time but tis the season!

I hope you are all having a fantastic break in the company of loved ones and recharging your batteries for 2017. I myself can’t believe just how quick this year has flown, it’s actually quite scary :0

I thought for this post I’d do something a little different just to mix it up a bit and talk about one of the traditions that we Persians celebrate. It actually falls near Christmas time so it’s quite fitting. What I’ll be discussing is “Yalda”; which is the celebration of the longest and darkest night of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.

This tradition marks the start of the forty day period of the winter season, which is referred to as “Shab-e Chelle” (forty nights). Yalda night falls between the last day of autumn and the first day of winter (December 21st). Yalda is actually a Syriac word which literally means “birth” and in the religious context was the Syriac Christian’s name for Christmas. Not really sure how it ended up being imported into the Persian language but lets just roll with it!

So what’s so special about Yalda? well I had to do a bit of research on this topic to familiarise myself with the history behind it. As it turns out in the Zoroastrian tradition the customs and practices of Yalda night were originally intended to protect people from evil (As you do!) On this particular night people would gather in the safety of groups of friends and family and would share the remaining fruits of the Summer and pass the night together in good company. Although the religious aspect has been lost, the remainder of the tradition has been retained in the Persian culture.

Food plays a key role in the present day tradition. In Iran, during Yalda night all the family get together to eat and read poetry. Foods that are significant to this night include Watermelon, Pomegranate (no surprise there!), nuts and sweets. Apparently the red colour of these fruits symbolise the crimson hues of dawn….pretty deep stuff 😉 These items are usually placed on a “Korsi”, which is a low table that has a Doona over it and a heater underneath to keep you warm during the night.

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my contemporary spin on the Yalda spread 🙂

There’s a lot of superstitious banter that goes on during this night, often associated with consumption of these foods in relation to health and well being. The entertainment portion involves telling anecdotes and of course reading Hafez poetry. One thing to note that I failed to mention in previous posts is that Persians are big on poetry and poets…in particular poems by Hafez who was a fourteenth century poet and one of the most celebrated poets in the Persian culture. His collected works are regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature and are recited by many people in Iran especially during times of celebration and festivities. Due to the mystical nature of Hafez’s poetry his poems are used as readings or divinations. This is known as “Fal-e Hafez”, it is common practice for families to do these readings on this night.

The day that follows Yalda night is referred to as “Khore rooz” (day of the sun). Since the days become longer and nights shorten, this day marks the victory of the sun over the darkness. Although this is more significant for Persians of Zoroastrian faith.

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A more traditional and impressive Yalda spread, courtesy of my relatives in Iran.

Basically that’s Yalda in a nutshell! hope it’s been informative…I definitely learnt a  whole lot 🙂

On that note, I would like to wish all my Persian peeps a very happy and belated Yalda. To my non Persian peeps, I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year. Thank you all so much for the support this year and see you all in 2017 Xx

Zeytoon Parvarde

Hello there my lovely readers, hope you’ve had a fab weekend. Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner? In the spirit of the festive season I’ve decided to share with you a super easy and delicious recipe that you can prepare for your upcoming holiday events!

Zeytoon Parvardeh is an olive, walnut and pomegranate appetiser dish from the north of Iran (Gilan Provence). This is one of those pomegranate and walnut combinations that I have mentioned in previous posts. If you have been curious to try, this is the perfect time to give it a go. Traditionally it’s a side dish that’s usually served alongside main dishes or even eaten with chelo kabab. However it can also be classified as a dip, not to mention a great addition to your Christmas spread that will totally impress your guests.There are numerous variations of this tasty side dish available online but the recipe I have for you is by far the best….it’s actually from my granny 🙂

The beauty of this dip is that it only contains a handful of ingredients, all available from the supermarket. The only things you will require are a small stick food processor and a sieve. Once you have these sorted, it literally takes no time to prepare. Hope you will give it a go and please let me know what you think.

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list of ingredients needed

“Zeytoon Parvarde” recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 jars of green pitted olives (black olives can also be used if preffered)
  • 2-3 pomegranates
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 1 tbs dried mint (this is a substitute herb as traditionally a special herb from Gilan called “Chochagh”is normally used)
  • salt

Method:

  • blitz the walnuts using the food processor until they become a meal consistency
  • grate the garlic cloves
  • rinse the olives to remove the brine
  • in a large bowl add the walnut meal and the other ingredients apart from the Pomegranate
  • cut the Pomegranate in half and de-seed it in a separate bowl

Hot tip: to de-seed the Pomegranate efficiently; just tap the skin using the back of a spoon, the seeds will fall out easily into the bowl

  • using your hands squeeze the seeds so the juice comes out, it can get messy so I suggest wearing gloves and performing it in the kitchen sink
  • using the sieve, sift out the juice from the seeds and transfer into the the bowl with the walnut mixture
  • give the final mixture a good mix using a spoon, it should have a thick consistency but also be slightly runny
  • Serve with pita bread

 

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The final product- however the way that I love eating Zeytoon Parvarde is to mix it with plain rice…sounds odd but don’t knock it till you try it!

Make sure to checkout my earlier posts on Albaloo and Faloodeh for other great and unique recipes to make your xmas party a cut above the rest 😉

That’s all folks, wish you all a very happy festive season ahead.Thank you so much for the ongoing support. Till next time Xx