Local Persian cuisine options in time for New Year celebration


Map of eastern Europe and Central Asia locating the Iran and the other major countries that celebrate Nowruz, the Persian new year; with information about the holiday.


A good way to honor the Persian celebration of spring, known as Nowruz or Persian New Year, is to try Persian food.

Persian New Year is celebrated around March 21 through various ancient traditions, such as the decorating of the Haft-Seen table and jumping over small fires the last Tuesday night before the New Year.

Even President Barack Obama decorates a table in the White House for the Iranian tradition. The Haft-Seen table is decorated with seven items which begin with the letter ‘S’ in their native language, Farsi: for example, Senjed (dried fruit), Sir (garlic), Sib (apple), Serkeh (vinegar), Sekkeh (coins), Sonbol (hydrangea flowers) or Sabzeh (wheat, lentil or barley sprouts). In addition to the seven S items, the table is often decorated with a mirror, candle sticks, a holy book, decorated eggs and a goldfish in a bowl full of water.

Each item has its own meaning: for example, the goldfish symbolizes life. The goldfish is supposed to jump at the arrival of spring. Eating from the Haft-Seen table is believed to grant a year filled with luck. The tradition which involves jumping over fires while singing a traditional song the night before the New Year is said to have different meanings such as the washing away of sins for the New Year, burning of subconscious worries and celebration of light over darkness.

In Texas, Persians celebrate by lighting small contained fires on their driveways, but in other parts of the world, bonfires are lit in streets and alleyways. Aside from celebrating Sizdah Be-dar by tying up lentils and throwing them into a lake in hopes of a marriage proposal on the 13th day after the New Year, another way to celebrate is to try Persian food.

Austin has a few Persian restaurants, but among the best is Shandeez Grill. Before each meal, a warm plate of pita bread is served as an appetizer, which tastes delicious with goat cheese or yogurt. Some safe and traditional dishes to try are the chicken and beef (koobideh) kabob.

If you are in the mood to try new things, I would recommend one of their stews. The ghormeh sabzi is a common Persian stew, which is a favorite among many Persians and Americans. Some compliments to this dish are the Persian salad (shirazi salad) and yogurt (maast), which are commonly eaten in conjunction with white rice, which is a staple compliment to every dinner. Another popular food is “tadic,” which is a golden crusted rice sometimes crusted with potatoes. 

Shandeez Grill offers quality Persian food which is difficult to find. Be sure to start the New Year right without the fear of trying new things and head on over to Shandeez Grill and try a warm plate of khoresht ghormeh sabzi.