When Philly native Louisa Shafia released her second cookbook, The New Persian Kitchen (Ten Speed Press), people immediately began commenting that she should try to connect with Mike Solomonov, owing to the overlap and interweaving of Israeli and Iranian cuisines. Since her home base is now Brooklyn, the opportunity came at Solo's dinner at City Grit in January, which Shafia attended with friends.
They were all impressed by Solomonov's food that night, Shafia says, "and he made his rice Persian style - perfectly fluffy and separated, and full of flavor. After the dinner I cornered him and asked if we could do a Norooz dinner at Zahav. He said yes."
That dinner, which celebrates the cookbook as well as the holiday, is taking place on Tuesday, March 18 at 7 p.m. But let's back up a step or two.
Norooz is Persian New Year, rooted in ancient Zoroastrian tradition. It coincides with the spring equinox to celebrate rebirth following the dead of winter, so it's not surprising that the menu for Shafia's cookbook dinner highlights ingredients that signal the new season, like lamb, fresh herbs, and rhubarb. (Not to mention pomegranates, which call to mind another famous springtime tale.)
Shafia's excited to share the whole tradition, including making a sofreh. "A sofreh is a traditional ceremonial table on which you put seven foods that begin with the letter S, along with eggs, coins, and a book of Hafez poetry. All of the items are meant to bring good luck in the new year," she explains.
You can see the full menu here, as well as purchase tickets. The cost for the dinner is $65 per person or $105 per couple — either option includes a copy of The New Persian Kitchen, in which you'll find the recipes for many of the dishes served at the dinner.
[Photo: Sara Remington]