Last Tuesday 21st March was Harmony Day, when Australia celebrates our rich cultural diversity.
But perhaps more deliciously, that means we are now in the middle of Taste of Harmony fortnight. Taste of Harmony encourages people to bring others together around a meal, to celebrate Australia’s rich culinary diversity.
So it really was very special this week to be invited by gorgeous friends to join them to welcome in the Persian New Year, a very important day in the Persian calendar that always occurs on March 20th or 21st.
It was my very first Nowrooz so there was much to learn!
Important is the traditional ceremonial table display set with seven traditional symbolic foods, all starting with the letter ‘S’ in Persian, that express hopes and wishes for the new year.
These seven traditional foods were sprouted lentils, a thick sweet caramel made from wheat, dried lotus fruit, garlic, apples (one per person in the family), sumac and apple vinegar. These foods symbolised life-rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty.
Also with the seven foods were coins, goldfish and a coloured egg representing similar hopes and wishes, as well as the Quran and poetry by Hafez.
A traditional dinner for Nowrooz often includes fish, which represents abundance.
But our dinner was different – full of carefully, prepared traditional Persian lamb dishes – absolutely delicious.
We started with a glass of Shiraz and olives marinated in pomegranate paste, walnut, parsley and mint.
Then we enjoyed a fresh Shirazi Salad (reminding me of a Kachumber salad eaten in India!)
A 5,000 years old recipe, Ghormeh Sabzi with lamb and preserved lemon
Gheimeh Nesar, a dish from Qazvin City made with almonds, pistachios, barberries and lamb
A very flavoursome and beautifully textured Saffron Rice made with a costly Persian rice variety sourced from Iran – this was one on my favourites. Who would have known that a simple rice dish could taste so good!
We were also treated to Musk Willow Syrup, used like a cordial to flavour water
Plenty of tea with a Perppermint Distillate
..and a beautiful dessert.
Lastly, we were introduced to a very old tradition – the Hookah.
This is a water pipe that is used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavors, such as apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut or licorice.
Now that is an experience!
How blessed I was by these precious friends who shared such an important occasion so dear to their hearts.
And I think my hosts felt a little less far from family and old friends by sharing this moment with new friends.
One of the wonderful things about living in Australia are times like this!