the hinata diaries

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Worth a thousand words: Noo rooz mobarak!

It was Persian New Year early Tuesday morning Singapore time. In honour of the lovely Nina (100% Iranian) and Hema (50%), we got together on Sunday afternoon to prepare traditional Iranian dishes for a celebration on Monday evening.

Now as a food blogger, you spend an inordinate proportion of your waking hours (and indeed many of your sleeping ones) striving for kitchen perfection.

A fully stocked spice rack? Check.
Utensils for every whim and fancy? Check.
Ergonomic workspace? Check.
Preferred slicing and dicing technique? Check.
A photographic imprint in your memory of where each pot, pan and spatula is in your kitchen? Check.

But what happens when you find yourself in a foreign kitchen with a bunch of nutter friends, at least two of which see food as more plaything than art form? (You know who you are!)

Cue silent weeping.

And with that, I present a little photo journal of our descent into group cooking madness...

The run-up. So that's what consultants do...

Hema's job is clearly taking over her mind as she prepares a group shopping and kitchen to-do list in Excel. We pretended to be impressed although deep down inside we were horrified.

At least the closet programmer didn't write this stuff out in Visual Basic or C++ or whatever it is programmers write in.

Sunday. Chaos begins...

Nina attempts to saw off her own tongue (she saw this done on TV once), while Michelle wisely and hurriedly retreats to Aubergine-Dicing-Zen-Land.

Jean attempts to seduce a yoghurt-covered chicken drumstick...

... then celebrates her apparent success by breaking out in a impromptu chicken dance with Nina. I'm guessing it's not H5N1, but whatever they have is very worrisome.

Hema reinstates an air of professionalism as she sets about caramelizing dried cranberries. With a resigned air of patience, she secretly wonders if maybe she should have made a PowerPoint presentation as well.

The first slide on that presentation would've been...

... How To Tell That The Washing Up Isn't Quite Done.

Nina: "I'm done!"

Me (stunned): "Umm, I'm not too sure if that's really counted as being done..."

Nina: "Awww, are you anal like Hema too??????"

I need to make Nina a t-shirt with her mantra for the afternoon: Suds Never Hurt Anybody.

Once we figure out how Nina's gonna carry all this (plus the 3 food-laden pots in the kitchen) back home on her own, we're done!

Party night. The stage is set.

And so has the chicken. Into a jelly, that is.

Jean and I volunteered to come early to help Nina fry the fish. We get rewarded with the thrill of cheating death, not once, but twice.

Near death situation 1:
Jean: "Nina, your kitchen smells a bit stale, especially with the gas on..."
Nina: "Ooh really? Let me spray this flammable aerosol at you girls, right next to the naked flame!"

Near death situation 2: The kitchen towel meant to blot the fish catches fire and has to be unceremoniously doused under the tap.

Finally, we're done!

Clockwise from the red spoon:

  • Zereshk Polo - basmati rice with caramelized cranberries and pistachios
  • Cucumber, tomato and onion salad
  • Zafferoon Chicken - chicken cooked in saffron and yoghurt
  • Sabzi Polo - basmati rice with mixed fresh herbs
  • Mirza Ghasemi - minced aubergine and tomatoes
  • Mahi - fried halibut in saffron batter

Will leave you with a lovely picture of Nina's Haft Sinn, the traditional laying of the table to celebrate the New Year. (Fatemeh of Gastronomie has a wonderful post on the history and symbolism of the Haft Sinn here.)

As an aside, the poor goldfish on the far left is unfortunately no longer with us, but I'm sure he lived his final days filled with pride to be part of such a time-honoured and beautiful tradition :)

Noo rooz mobarak everyone!


  • Now Nina has Tango, Vibrator, Deformed and Shitty to replace poor goldfish that has passed away. Goldy will be remember for long how he was desparately trying to live by sticking his face outta very narrow vase for air......and all the fish could hear from people at the party was "oh he is going to die soon ~~!!!!"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11:18 AM  

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