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Celebrate the Persian New Year with a Lavish Feast

Nowruz meal

If you haven’t heard of Nowruz, there’s still time to join more than 300 million people worldwide in welcoming spring at the Persian New Year Dinner & Book Signing this Sunday. 

Since the arrival of the vernal equinox, families and friends have been gathering around the haftseen table for the 13-day long celebration of spring. This extensive feast features both Iranian cuisine, as well as a colorful tableau of symbolic items (a bowl of goldfish; painted eggs).

It’s an international affair that Chef Josh Lewin and Katrina Jazayeri, of Bread and Salt Hospitality, were eager to incorporate into their growing roster of geographic culinary experiences—which includes a Texas BBQ affair in the quintessential New England city of Boston. 

On March 23, the group rang in the New Year in Somerville, MA, treating guests to an extensive spread and post-dinner cocktail reception.

“It was really exciting to take this fine dining experience and translate it [to a] fun cuisine that people don’t get a lot of exposure to,” said Lewin. 

In New York, the couple will host two consecutive three-course dinners at Jimmy’s No. 43, on the Lower East Side—both taking place this Sunday. The menu will feature innovative versions of classic Persian New Year dishes, such as Sabzi Polo Mahi, the dill-poached fish that is one of Katrina’s childhood favorites, and a sweet spin on the savory Zereshk Polo for dessert. 

“It’s a combination of saffron, orange, and barberries…and that’s as much as I’m giving away about that one,” said Lewin of the final plate.

Famed cookbook author Louisa Shafia, of The New Persian Kitchen, will be in attendance on Sunday, signing copies of her book and helping Lewin and Jazayeri commemorate Persian traditions.

“Josh and I decided [to] introduce Persian New Year to a broader audience,” says Jazayeri of the occasion, noting the way her Persian-inspired cocktails and Lewin’s modern Middle Eastern cuisine add context to the holiday.

“That connection to the experience and the story is something [we] embrace in all of the Bread and Salt events.”

After having a taste of the New Day - and one or two killer dried lime gimlets - Jazayeri promises diners will have full and happy stomachs. "But even more than that," she adds, "I hope people leave feeling the way I do when I leave my Persian family's home." 

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Michele J Martin

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