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21 Dishes You Need To Learn To Cook Before Persian New Year

Nowruz is on 21 March. It's time to get cooking!

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1. Sabzi polo ba mahi

This is the daddy of all Nowruz foods. It's traditionally served for lunch on New Year's Day and consists of rice with green herbs, served with fish (usually sea bass or tilapia). The herbs represent rebirth, the fish represents life, and eating a plate of this is said to bring good luck. Find a recipe here.

2. Kookoo sabzi

This is a delicious, deep-green omelette made with whipped eggs and herbs. It can be served hot or cold and is often brought to a Sizdeh Bedar picnic on the 13th, and last, days of the Nowruz celebrations. Find a recipe here.

3. Asheh reshteh

A hearty soup made from thick noodles, known as reshteh, and a dairy product called kashk which is similar to whey, as well as herbs and beans. It’s a healthy and restorative meal, which symbolises good fortune and success for the year ahead. Find a recipe here.

4. Fesenjan

A thick stew made with pomegranate syrup and ground walnuts, this Persian staple is usually served with either yellow or white rice. Traditionally, it's made with chicken, as in this recipe, but lamb, fish and vegetarian variations are popular too.

5. Kooloocheh

Kooloocheh is usually prepared for Nowruz celebrations in the south of Iran and originates from the city of Shiraz. They're made from yeast, milk, butter, and eggs, and they have a delicious walnut, sugar, and cinnamon filling. Find a recipe here.

6. Chelo kabab

No Nowruz table is complete without Iran's national dish, the chelo kabab. Served with steamed and buttery basmati rice, known as chelo, the kebabs are usually made from ground lamb. Find a recipe here.

7. Dolmeh Bargeh mo

Stuffed vine leaves are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, but what sets the Persian version apart is the fact they're made from grape or cabbage leaves (known as dolmeh barg-e kalam), then stuffed with ground beef and rice, and they're square shaped. They can be time-consuming to make, but they're definitely worth the effort. Find a recipe here.

8. Dolmeh felfel

A variant on the dolmeh above, dolmeh felfel is a bell pepper stuffed with rice, herbs, garlic, tomato paste, and ground meat. Vegetarians can substitute breadcrumbs for the meat. Find a recipe here.

9. Faloodeh

This is a chilled ice-cream type dessert made from sugar, and rose water syrup, and topped with thin vermicelli noodles. It originated in Shiraz and is one of the earliest cold desserts in the world, with records of it existing as early as 400 BC. You can add fruit or nuts to it, with pistachios being especially popular. Find a recipe here.

10. Sharbart e Khakshir

A sweet and soothing drink, this is known for its medicinal qualities, as it’s believed to cleanse the liver. It’s similar to a sorbet and is often served ice-cold with rose water. Plus, it's healthy! Find a recipe here.

11. Jujeh kabab

Jujeh kabab literally means "grilled chicken" in Farsi. The tender pieces of meat are marinated in minced onion, saffron, and lemon juice then grilled, before being served with rice or lavash, a type of flatbread. Find a recipe here.

12. Ghormeh sabzi

A famous dish enjoyed by most Iranians, this is a thick green stew made from herbs and dried lemons. It might not look that appetising, but it’s really yummy, and nutritious too. Beef or lamb are usually added, but you can leave them out to make it vegetarian. Find a recipe here.

13. Tahdig polo

It’s rice, but not as you know it. In fact, it’s the best rice ever. It’s fluffy rice, but topped with a golden crust made from the crispy bits at the bottom of the pan. Tahdig polo is usually a side dish, but to make this a standalone meal you can add potatoes, bread and tomato. It can be tricky to get right, but once you perfect it you'll never look back. Find a recipe here.

14. Zereshk polo ba morgh

A classic Persian dish, succulent chicken thighs are mixed with saffron then added to rice with zereshk, or barberries, small, dried berries which are both sweet and sour and can be found in most Middle Eastern food shops. The barberries don't just add a tart taste, they bring a beautiful splash of colour to the meal too. Find a recipe here.

15. Gaz

Sweets are often brought as gifts to Nowruz festivities, and gaz is a popular choice. A type of nougat filled with pistachios, it originated in the city of Isfahan. It’s usually shop-bought, packed in a decorative box, but you can find out how to make your own here.

16. Baghlava yazdi

Another tasty treat for the Nowruz table, Persian baghlava is drier and lighter than the Turkish version, usually cut into diamond shapes, flavoured with rose water instead of honey, and filled with pistachios, almonds, and cardomom. Find a recipe here.

17. Masghati Shirazi

This melt-in-your-mouth dessert is usually served up for Nowruz celebrations in the south of Iran. Traditionally cut into pretty diamond or square shapes, it’s made from starch infused with rose water, almonds, cardamom, saffron and crushed pistachios. It also goes really well with a traditional cup of chai. Find a recipe here.

18. Salad olivieh

A salad made from chicken, eggs, peas, carrots, chicken, potatoes and mayonnaise, this is often brought along to Sizdeh Bedar picnics, where it is served with lavash bread. It’s also frequently used as a sandwich filling or appetizer. Find a recipe here.

19. Borani Esfanaaj

Another tasty picnic food, this cold dip is made by mixing thick, creamy yoghurt with spinach and walnuts. It goes incredibly well with lavash, or pitta bread fresh from the oven, but if you want to be super healthy you can use carrots or cucumber to dip. Find a recipe here.

20. Doogh

Wash down your tasty Nowruz feast with a refreshing glass of Doogh. It goes perfectly with kababs and rice, and has a tart rather than a sweet taste. The drink can be carbonated with club soda or flavoured with mint. Find a recipe here.

21. Chai

If you visit any Iranian house, you’ll certainly be offered chai, a well-brewed cup of hot black tea, no matter what time of day. It’s served at any occasion, usually brewed using a type of kettle called a samovar. Find out how to make the perfect brew here, and if you want to sweeten the tea use a nabaat, a stick of hard rock candy flavoured with saffron. It’s said to also cure many ailments, from stomach aches to menstrual problems.

And to set the table: Haft Sin

And finally, no Nowruz celebrations are complete without the Haft Sin. The traditional table setting includes seven items which start with the Farsi letter sin and symbolise different things. Sabzeh is sprouts growing in a dish, meaning rebirth; samanu is a sweet pudding, expressing affluence; senjed is an oleaster fruit, which means love; sir is garlic, meaning medicine; sin is apples symbolising beauty and health; somaq is sumac fruit; the colour of sunrise; and serkeh is vinegar, representing old age and patience. Other items are usually placed too, such as goldfish, mirrors and candles. Simply beautiful. Find out how to set up a table here.