Afghanistan’s new year celebration is right around the corner! We’ve discussed it several times in sewing class to learn more about how the holiday is celebrated by the seamstresses in our program and their families on the other side of the world. If you’ve never heard of Nowruz (as we hadn’t), here’s quick rundown, along with some fun recipes.

Nowruz celebration by UN Geneva

  • The name ‘Nowruz’ comes from the ancient Avestan language meaning ‘new day’, and marks the start of spring! It is also referred to as “Farmers Day”, and will be celebrated for 2 weeks, culminating on March 21st, which is the start of the new year for Afghanis.
  • The holiday was banned during the Taliban’s rule, in part because of the traditions of walking on fresh grass or jumping over fire, both supposedly bringing good luck.
  • Part of the celebrations include buying new clothes for children and hosting parties for friends and family. One of the traditional foods that is cooked is called “Samanak”, and even cooking it is a party! Women and girls sing together as they prepare the dish.
  • Spring cleaning is truly a thing with Nowruz! Starting at least two weeks before the actual date, a thorough house cleaning called a “khane tekani” takes place. Rugs are washed, walls are painted, and furniture is repaired. If it needs to be cleaned or fixed, this is the time to do it.
    • Buzkashi tournaments are held in Afghanistan. This unusual sport features horse-mounted players try to place a goat carcass in a goal. This has got to be one crazy game to watch!

    Recipes from Afghanistan

    Haft Mewa

    Haft Mewa is a traditional Afghan dessert dish made of seven fruits: pistachio, walnuts, raisins, dried apricots, almonds, prunes and bing cherries. The dried fruit is left soaking for at least two days in rose water and a pinch of cardamom, until the water becomes a syrup. 

    From the Arousing Appetites recipe


    • 1 cup black raisins
    • 1 cup yellow or green raisins
    • 1 cup dried senjet, or bing cherry
    • 1 cup almonds (pre-peeled is ideal)
    • 1 cup pistachios (pre-peeled is ideal)
    • 1 cup walnut halves (pre-peeled is definitely ideal)
    • 1 cup dried apricots
    • ½ teaspoon rose water (optional)
    • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
    • 4 cups water

    Get the full recipe from Arousing Appetites Afghan food blog!

    Kuku Sabzi

    This flavorful dish is a type of frittata made with eggs and an herb mixture that is distinctively Afghani!

    Kuku Sabzi Afghani Food
    • 1 Russet potato (about 8 ozs.), peeled and quartered
    • Salt
    • 8 eggs
    • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
    • 1 bunch scallions
    • 4 ozs of chopped spinach
    • 1 small jalapeño
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • Dash of black pepper
    • 2 Tbs Olive Oil

    Get the full Kuku Sabzi recipe from Afghan Culture Unveiled’s food blog

    Sabzi Polo

    Sabzi Polo with Mahi fish from Turmeric and Saffron’s blog.

    A lovely seasoned rice side dish that is made with a variety of herbs, including coriander, dill and parsley. This traditional Nowruz meal is often served with fish

    • 1 cup of chopped parsley
    • 1 cup of chopped dill
    • 1 cup of chopped scallions or leeks (
    • 1 cup of chopped coriander 
    • 2-3 tablespoons dried mixed herbs for
    • *optional 3-4 cloves of peeled garlic
    • 2 1/2 cups of long grain rice
    • 1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 4 tablespoons of hot water
    • Salt
    • Vegetable oil
    • Water

    Get the rest of this easy recipe from Turmeric and Saffron’s Persian food blog.

    Ash e Reshte Soup (aka, Afghan Spaghetti)

    This lovely looking noodle soup is also called “Afghan Spaghetti”, according to Pakistan Eats blog. It’s a popular hearty soup that is common on Nowruz menus, and includes chickpeas, lentils, onions and herbs.
    We won’t give the ingredients list here – it’s too big – but the recipe itself is actually pretty simple and Maryam does a great job making it simple for us in the West to make with easily available ingredients.

    Ash e Reshte recipe at Pakistan Eats blog

    Our napkins and table runners are made by former refugees from Afghanistan! You can encourage and support them by purchasing from our Journey Home Kitchen Collection.

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