One of my goals for this blog is to write about the Persian food that is consumed during holidays and celebrations of the various religions and ethnic groups that exist in Iran.
Today, is the first of these series since it is the Armenian Christmas. When I was little and lived in Iran I remember visiting my mom’s friends who were Armenian. I guess my mom had many Armenian friends because she attended a French Catholic school in Tehran where they studied French in the morning and Farsi in the afternoon.
A couple of days ago I had a very lovely chat over the phone with one of my mom’s Armenian friends, Lily Khanoom, who now resides in Colorado. She was very gracious and spent some time on the phone with me and shared some very interesting information with me all the while she was prepping a delicious feast for Christmas eve.
Armenians around the world share the same holidays season which begins from the first of January until the sixth, which is today. Presents are opened either after midnight on New Year’s Eve or in the morning of January first. During this six day period is customary for family and friends to pay home visits to each other.
Christmas eve is celebrate in the evening of the fifth and Christmas day is celebrated on the sixth of January. When I inquired about the food I was really surprised to find out that Armenian Iranians have different culinary traditions than the rest of the Armenians around the world. The food that they traditionally eat either on Christmas eve or day is Chelow, white rice, with Kuku Sabzi, a frittata with various herbs, and Mahi Doody, smoked white fish. Some families make white rice, however, others, like Lily khanoom, make Sabzi Polow, rice with herbs.
The reason why I was surprised at such discovery is the fact that those are the same dishes that Persians eat for the Persian New Year, Norouz. The only difference is that Armenian Iranians don’t eat Ashe Reshteh, a hearty Persian noodle soup, for the New Year.
I was also surprised to find out that the Armenian sweet bread Gata is not a Christmas sweet, as I was under the impression, but it is traditionally known to be associated with Easter.
Lily khanoom was gracious enough to share with me her recipe for Gata, which will make an appearance on this blog during Easter. And have no fears, all of the dishes mentioned above will also be featured during the weeks leading to the Persian New Year in March!
If any of you readers belong to the different ethnic and religious groups that live in Iran, I would love to hear from you and hear all about your culinary traditions so that I can feature them on here.
Merry Christmas to all of our fellow Armenians!