As we prepare to welcome spring, millions of people are getting ready to celebrate Nowruz. The Persian new year is celebrated by many around the world, including Iranian, Afghan, Kurdish, Zoroastrian, Bahá’í, Central Asian, and Ismaili communities in Canada and elsewhere.
Nowruz marks the beginning of spring and the new year in the Persian calendar. Persian for “new day,” Nowruz has brought family and friends together around the haftseen table to rejoice and celebrate while honouring family and nature.
Traditional Persian dishes are served to mark the occasion. One of these is sholeh zard, a dessert made and served with love, which presides over the most auspicious occasions.
1 cup rice (jasmine or basmati)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons brewed saffron
2 green cardamom pods
2 tablespoons pure rosewater (available at Persian markets)
For garnish: Ground cinnamon, slivered pistachios and/or almonds (edible rose petals are optional)
Rinse the rice until the water is clear. Let the rice sit in clear water for a few hours. Drain the water. In a medium saucepan, mix the rice with six cups of water and the salt and bring to a boil (uncovered). Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is softened, about 30 minutes.
Stir the sugar, brewed saffron, and cardamom pods into the rice. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan and until the rice breaks down and the pudding is soft. This will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and discard cardamom pods. Stir in the rosewater. Remove from heat. Spoon the pudding into a serving dish and let cool slightly. Cover the dish with a wrap and refrigerate until chilled (approximately 1.5 hours).
Decorate the pudding with cinnamon, slivered almonds, and/or pistachios. Add edible rose petals if desired. Let the pudding sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
Enjoy! Wishing you a happy Nowruz and a year full of love, prosperity, and happiness.