This fish shaped dessert is very popular among the Indian Parsi community. It is molded in the shape of a fish because the fish is a symbol for fertility and good luck. It can be sliced and eaten as dessert.
Storage Instructions: Can be kept outside for 2 or 3 days, refrigerated for a couple of weeks, or frozen for much longer.
1 cup powdered almonds
1 1/3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup sifted powdered sugar (second batch)
1 tbs. slightly beaten egg white
few drops food coloring (optional)
Grind almonds until powdered.
Then add 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, almond extract, and 2 tbs. water.
Mix together until the mixture forms a ball.
Beat in remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar.
Stir in enough egg white (1/2 to 1 tbs.) to form a clay-like mixture.
Tint with food coloring if desired.
Mold into shapes or press flat to form a block 1/2 inch thick.
Cut into squares and serve.
Combine all of above in a large mixing bowl. You may need to work the mixture with your hands to ensure that it is well mixed. I took a non-stick pan and heated up these, but be careful the mix does not burn. Use very low heat.
To prevent the mixture from drying as you work with it, rub hands with a light coating of vegetable shortening. Wrap tightly in plastic until ready for use.
Line mold with shortening.
Press the marzipan into mold and let it set overnight.
Yalda on December 21 is celebrated in many parts of the world. Eating watermelon in the winter is believed to keep you healthy in the new year. Watermelon seeds are one of the items in the health food – parsi vasanu and the gujarati word is “char jat nu magaj”.
Yalda Festival Table
(Shab e Cheleh)
By Rita Jamshed Kapadia
Shab-e Yalda: When Light Shines and Goodness Prevails
Everywhere in the world, people observe various seasonal days of celebration during the month of December. Most are religious holy days and are linked in some way to the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Yalda, an ancient Iranian Festival, is celebrated on the eve of the winter solstice and goes several thousand years back in the country’s history. The tradition originated from the Mithraism religion. “Yalda” is a Syriac word meaning birth, and it was believed that Mithra, the Persian angel of light, was born during that night, which was then called Yalda.
Yalda is a Syric word imported into the Persian language by the Syric Christians. Early Christians linked this very ancient Persian celebration to Mithra, goddess of light, and to the birth anniversary of Prophet Jesus. Ancient Iranian Zoroastrians believed that on December 21 darkness is defeated by light. On this night, family and friends get together. Dried nuts, watermelon and pomegranate juices and delicious snack are served. Classic poetry and old mythologies are read aloud.
As the longest night of the year, the Eve of Yalda (Shab-e Yalda) on December 21 is also a turning point, after which the days grow longer. It symbolizes the triumph of Light and Goodness over the powers of Darkness. During this night, Iranian Americans, along with Iranians around the globe, hold gatherings and stay up late, eating pomegranate, watermelon and a variety of nuts. They also read poetry, especially by the poet Hafez, who is a highly respected and adored 14th-century Persian mystic poet. Hafez’s poetry books have been gaining a foothold in American classrooms and popularity among Americans. Here is a line in the poetry of Hafez that I found interesting – “Look at the sun in quest of light, you may find it.”
Many varieties of fruits and sweetmeats are specially prepared for this festival. In some areas it is believed that forty varieties of edibles should be served during the ceremony of the night of Chelleh. The most typical is watermelon especially kept from summer for this ceremony. It is believed that consuming watermelons on the night of Chelleh will ensure the health and well-being of the individual during the months of summer by protecting him/her from falling victim to excessive heat or disease produced by hot summers. Another common practice on the night of Chelleh involves young engaged men. The bachelors send a platter containing seven kinds of fruits to their fiancées on this night. The girl and her family can return the favor by sending gifts back for the young man.
The Parsi community has been celebrating with a “Haft-seen Table” at Navroze (Nawruz) events, why not celebrate with a “Yalda Table” in the December Holiday season as well ?
FEZANA requested to create some yalda recipes. Being a indian where Yalda is not celebrated by my Parsi community, this was a challenge. Many days of research and creating food using water melon, pumpkin seeds and other middle eastern foods, I have these easy to make Recipes for the Yalda Night below.
The flavor of watermelon and feta cheese explodes in your mouth. Try it sometime.
– Rita Jamshed Kapadia
About Rita: Since 1999, Rita Kapadia, founder of ParsiCuisine.com, has provided recipes, food news, health tips and articles on this website. Recently, Rita has published several Parsi Cuisine cookbooks. Cookbooks are sold on Amazon.com worldwide. Our Parsi Cuisine cookbooks are a labor of love. The cookbooks began in an effort to maintain and preserve our recipes and traditions for the next generation, many of whom have been raised in USA, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Canada and other countries outside of India.
The FEZANA Journal is published four times a year in Spring, Summer Fall and Winter.
In order to boost subscriptions we have decided to offer three items created especially for our promotion, not available anywhere else!
A special issue of Rita Kapadia’s Childrens Parsi Recipe Cookbook will allow parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to cook with their youngster and record their kitchen adventures. Get it free with your subscription.
The Monajat Sampler contains 7 of Mani Rao’s Gujarati and English sweet melodies and devotional songs.
The Zoroastrian Songs and Prayers is a new CD with Khan Ashem Vohu, melodies and peaceful prayers
If you are not already a subscriber to the FEZANA JOURNAL, you don’t know what you you are missing.
As FEZANA enters its 30th anniversary, and migrants grow roots in the North American continent and establish a unique new identity for themselves in our new western Zarathushti diaspora, traditions are forming.
Harkening back to our countries of origin, to celebrate the New Year and the coming ofSpring on March 21st (Jamshedi Navroz)we are suggesting that we tell our friends and neighbors who we are by sharing a snippet of our culture, and reviving the tradition of giving them a gift of ‘mithu mohnu’ – any sweet dish.
HOW WE CAN PARTICIPATE
We suggest we make something sweet (shirini) for six or more of our neighbors, gift-wrap it nicely, include a little write up (available from us upon request) in your gift box/plate/basket and deliver it personally to them on or the day before Jamshedi Navroz.
Suggestions for ‘mithoo mohnu’ include: khatai, ravo, badam pak, sev, dahi, mava cake, kumas, parsi custard, mava ni boi, dar ni pori, badam-ni-boi , jalebi, rabri, or any other traditional sweet dish. Iranian traditions for NowRuz,include shirini (sweets) and nuts, for the Haft Sheen table: Komach Sen , Ghahveh Badam, Aajeel , Nan-nokhodchi, Baghlava , Noghol, Noon- Berenji, Toot (mulberry marzipan —see photo at left), Sohan Asli , Louz (1). If you don’t like to cook feel free to order it. Just ensure it is good stuff and authentic.
Try to chat about this project with your friends. It does not have to cost you the moon, the idea really is to share this simple tradition with your neighbors.
We got an email from Vera Springett sharing her idea of what she plans to do for her ”care and share”.
Vera says: “I’ll be making ravo and putting it in mason jars for the neighbors. Each mason jar will contain layers of ravo, then a mix of fried almonds and golden raisins, and so on till the top. I think it will look pretty and make it fun to eat. Maybe I’ll provide a spoon too. Let’s see. I’ll tie the write-up around the lid.”
For shipping to addresses in the USA, you may wish to consider ordering ‘badam-ni-boi’ (fish-shaped almond-marzipan) from Roshan Rivetna of Chicago area (RRRivetna@aol.com, 630-340 8272).
For shipping to addresses in Canada, please contact: Niloufer Mavalvala of Greater Toronto Area, Author and Founder, http://www.NiloufersKitchen.com, email@example.com, M: +1 416 301 9959
We would love to hear back from you, particularly from the Zarathushtis from Iran who are an integral part of the North American diaspora, with creative ideas and suggestions as we travel together on this fun journey and celebrate life.
With all good wishes for Sadeh!
Information Receiving and Dissemination Committee of FEZANA
So many pleasures await you – there is a certain joy to retiring in North America. One of them is of course the joy of eating good food with activities that keep the body and spirit well-nourished for example Travel, Gardening and Exercise.
Good food is made of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Some of them are:
Vitamin A (a.k.a. pre-formed Retinol;Beta-Carotene)
What it’s good for: Promotes growth and repair of body tissue, healthy eyes, good night vision and a strong immune system.
Where you get it:Liver and fish oils, whole and fortified milk and eggs. Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and other leafy green veggies, yellow squash, peaches and apricots provide Beta and other carotenes.
Watch out: Vitamin A can be toxic in large doses, and when taken during pregnancy can cause birth defects. Your body stores excess vitamin A so don’t exceed the RDA.
Vitamin B-1 (a.k.a. Thiamine)
What it’s good for: Helps convert food into energy, nerve functions, growth and muscle tone.
Where you get it: Wheat germ, pork, whole and enriched grains, dried beans, seeds, and nuts.
Vitamin B-2 ( a.k.a. Riboflavin)
What it’s good for: Releases energy, keeps red blood cells healthy, makes hormones.
Where you get it: Dairy products, meats, poultry, whole and enriched grains, and green vegetables such as broccoli, turnip greens, asparagus, and spinach. Tidbit: High doses of B-2 may help prevent migraine headaches.
Vitamin B-3 (a.k.a Niacin)
What it’s good for: Releases energy, important for a healthy digestive system, blood circulation, nerve function, appetite.
Where you get it: Poultry, fish, whole and enriched grains, dried beans, and peas.
Vitamin B-5 (a.k.a Pantothenic Acid)
What it’s good for: Converts food into energy, necessary to make important hormones, vitamin D, and red blood cells.
Where you get it: Found in almost all foods.
Vitamin B-6 (a.k.a Pyridoxine)
What it’s good for: Helps convert food into energy, keeps red blood cells healthy, makes antibodies, maintains nerve function, enhances the immune system, helps prevent heart disease. Where you get it:Poultry, fish, pork, eggs, and whole grains.
Tidbit: Small doses of B-6 may help alleviate morning sickness. Check with your doctor. Watch Out: B-6 in high doses can cause balance difficulties, nerve injury.
Vitamin B-12 (a.k.a Cobalamin)
What it’s good for: Releases energy from food, keeps red blood cells healthy, helps maintain the nervous system, boosts the immune system, helps prevent heart disease.
Where you get it: Dairy products, lean beef, fish, poultry, and eggs.
What it’s good for: Calcium and phosphorus metabolism, aids bone growth and integrity, promotes strong teeth.
Where you get it: Fortified milk, egg yolks and fatty fish, like herring, kipper and mackerel.
What it’s good for: Antioxidant powers protect cell membranes, essential for red blood cells, aids cellular respiration and protects lung tissue from pollution.
Where you get it: Vegetable oils, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, seafood, apples, carrots and celery.
Proanthocyanidins. These are powerful antioxidants that promote urinary tract health.
About Rita: Since the last 17 years from 1999, Rita Kapadia, founder of ParsiCuisine.com has provided recipes, food news, health tips and articles on this website. Rita has published several Parsi Cuisine cookbooks.
Dolly Dastoor, the Editor of the FEZANA Journal has this to say
Food plays a very important role in our Zarathushti psyche. We create all varieties of food for different occasions; special food for happy occasions and we also have food for the dead in our religious ceremonies. In the Summer, 2011 edition of the FEZANA Journal, Sarosh and Benafsha Khariwala together with Arnavaz Chubb, all in Melbourne, Australia, explored the concept of “Food as Our Identity”. They did a superb job in soliciting articles for the meaning of food in our various rituals, of finding Zarathushti chefs from around the world who graciously shared their prize recipes. Farishta Murzban Dinshaw took their work to the next level, collecting recipes from Journal readers and using her love of history to add the cherry on the top. We thank Farishta for undertaking this project with such dedication and love.
We offer the gift of this book to all Zarathushtis who are interested in good food as we celebrate FEZANA’s silver jubilee this year. We invite you to relish the experience and the taste as you read the articles and try the recipes.
This book has 72 recipes, which is just a sampling of Parsi and Persian dishes. The recipes have been contributed by readers from Australia, Britain, Canada, India, Iran, Pakistan and the United States of America. Some recipes have been edited to fit the page, but I have tried to maintain the voice of the contributor as far as possible. For this reason, you may see that spellings of non-English terms vary and have not been italicized. Some people might wish that there had been photographs to accompany the recipes. It was a conscious decision to make this a text-based publication so that it would be faster to download and save toner ink when printing. For more recipes, including quintessential ones like Patra ni Machi (Fish in Banana Leaves) or Khoresht Fesenjan (Pomegranate and Walnut Stew), visit websites like www.parsicuisine.com and www.mypersiankitchen.com.
This publication is dedicated to my father, late Murzban Nadirshah Dinshaw, whose appetite for good food was as large as his heart – Daddy, I miss you every time I have rumble tumble on toast.
Farishta Murzban Dinshaw has a Masters degree in institutional food management from the University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan. She enjoys eating more than cooking, and revels in the diverse ethnic cuisines available in Toronto, Canada, where she lives. Her interest in Zarathushti history and religion began at age fifteen when she started volunteering at the Friday School for Little Zarathushtis, Karachi. She has presented papers on Zarathushti religion at several congresses, including the World’s Religions after September 11 Congress, Montreal in 2006. Farishta is a regular contributor to the Fezana Journal and Hamazor. She is also the author of Discovering Ashavan, a story set in ancient Iran about a young boy befriended by Zarathushtra.