For many, when we think of Spring’s arrival… we think… fresh, new, alive. It feels like a big stretch and yawn, awaking from our slumber after the winter season. It is a time to look at life in a different light. And usually that light is looking at our home and starting the work of ‘spring cleaning’. Spring cleaning origins date back to prehistory, and represent the time when it was easiest to have a through cleaning of living spaces. Extra light allowed people additional time to truly see the messy state of their caves, huts, or teepees. Warmer weather also meant that people could get things thoroughly dry.
One culture of spring cleaning origins is dated to the Persians, called Nowruz (or Nouroz), which occurs at the onset of spring. Traditionally, Persian women clean everything in the house right before Nowruz begins, including floors, drapery, furniture, and ceilings. This is called khooneh takouni which translates to “shaking the house.” Azita with Turmeric & Saffron shares her story of Nowruz celebrations, along with her traditions of food and starting a fresh new year.
“One thing that is common among all Iranians is our shared passion for all things Nowruz, an ancient festival of Spring dating back 3000 years ago. In most households there’s a frenzied rush to complete the task of khane tekani (spring cleaning), growing sabzeh (seeds), shopping for haft seen items and buying new clothes for the children, all before Sal-e Tahvil occurs. Nowruz is about feasting on traditional food such as kookoo sabzi, sabzi polow ba mahi, reshteh polow and ash-e reshteh among many other fresh and mixed herb-based dishes. There’s also a rich tradition of baking New Year’s desserts and each region has its own traditional shirini (sweets) to celebrate this traditional festival. Nowruz celebrations are a chance to nourish the body and the spirit by enjoying delicious meals with your family and friends.”
“Whether I engage in an all out khaneh tekani or choose to minimize it down to the necessary basics, I must always remind myself of the greater message of this celebration: purifying the heart, mind and soul. Nowruz, is about starting a “New Day,” rejuvenating the mind and body, purifying the heart, welcoming light and good health into your life and getting rid of any negativity.”
“It has been a harsh winter here in the north east which makes the arrival of Spring all the more exhilarating. The force of life runs deep within the bare trees, hidden blooms and all living things like a winding river on the way to its destination, touching, turning and shifting everything in its path. The long-awaited joyous celebration of Nowruz (New Day) breathes optimism and joy into the world.”
“In our home Nowruz was always celebrated with mouth-watering sweets, fresh seasonal fruits and fancy ajil (Persian mixed nuts). One of my favorite Nowruz sweets that reminds me of home is nan panjerehi, a crunchy and lightly sweetened cookie. Nan Panjarehi/shirini panjarei translates to window cookies in Persian. Nan means bread and panjareh means window and making a window cookie is so befitting for springtime festivities. Nowruz holidays were the most beautiful time of year to be in Khuzestan province with its vast open fields of shaghayegh flowers and endless green hills.”
“This is an Iranian recipe with a touch of Scandinavian influence. I like that they use fewer eggs and add milk to the recipe. I opted to use 2 eggs and a cup of 2% milk. For this recipe you’ll need a rosette iron, a candy thermometer (highly recommended) and a bit of patience. Typically, the first couple of cookies will not come out right.”
Makes about 40 pieces
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup wheat starch
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2% milk)
4 tablespoons rosewater
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Vegetable oil (canola oil)
- Place the starch in a large mixing bowl, add the rosewater, stir to blend.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork lightly.
- Add the whisked eggs, sifted flour, milk and ground cardamom to the mixture, mix with a wire whisk until well blended and smooth.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve.
- Cover with a plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Heat 2-3 inches of oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in a deep pot.
- Heat the rosette iron in the hot oil for one minute, remove and tap on a paper towel.
- Deep the iron into the batter just up to the edges, remove and place into the hot oil for 30 seconds or until golden. Remove from hot oil and place on paper towel lined large plate to remove any excess oil.
Dust nan panjerehi with powdered sugar and serve.
Source: Turmeric & Saffron