The Gahambars are the seven
major festivals of the Zoroastrians and are celebrated with a religious ritual
which is described by Mary Boyce, as it was done in Iran, pp. 42-44, see A
Persian Stronghold. The actual religious part is called an Afrinagan
and is described by Ali A. Jafarey on www.zoroastrian.org. The prayers for this
are given in the ancient texts of the Zoroastrians. It is required that these
prayers be spoken by a Zoroastrian priest and the attendance is restricted to
actual Zoroastrians. There is also a communal feast in which everyone brings
something to add, such as dairy, meat, grain, legumes and vegetables and this
article just gives the more general traditions for the communal celebration,
especially the foods.
According to the Zoroastrians, Novruz (New Year’s Day, celebrated at the
Spring Equinox, usually March 20 or 21st), was instituted by Jamshid and is more
specifically called Jamshid Novruz. The beginning of this festival is also
described in the Shah Namah where he is one of the legendary Persian
kings. Most Persians are now Moslems, however Novruz is still celebrated as a
secular holiday in Iran, with fireworks, feasting and visiting, and we can all
enjoy the traditional festival foods of this time. fuggle26
The communal feast at Gahambars includes
a dish called an Âsh. There is also bread, including a special bread called dron
which is blessed by the priest, with a description for making it given by Mary
Boyce, pp. 38-39 in A Persian Stronghold, and there is always ajil
or lurk, a mixture of 7 kinds of dried fruit and nuts which people could take
home with them. The recipes follow.
Âsh Reshteh Recipe
Âsh Reshteh (this version with
noodles) is one of the traditional foods at Gahambars. Âsh just means ‘soup’ in
Persian. It’s highly variable, in fact, it is probably made traditionally from
whatever people could bring, like “Stone Soup”. But this version is typically
Persian, and is especially appropriate to the celebration of Novruz, because it
includes many kinds of seed foods. It is eaten in bowls and may have little
patterns formed on top with bright-colored spices or yoghurt.
If possible, drain a cup of yoghurt in the refrigerator overnight, and also
soak the beans and chickpeas in water overnight or just use canned beans.
Lentils don’t need to be soaked.
spaghetti or linguini noodles, cooked and set aside
cup red beans
1/2 cup white beans
1/4 cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/4 cup lentils
1 big bunch of spinach, cut small
1 onion, sliced (and some saved for the
onion garnish and the yoghurt garnish)
2 garlic cloves, minced (and some
saved for the yoghurt garnish)
1 T olive oil
turmeric powder or a shake
of curry powder
a shake of chili powder (not too authentic, but still good)
salt to taste
Put all this together in a pot, with
water or chicken stock. Cook until the beans are tender, then add the noodles
back in and eat it in big bowls with the garnishes on top.
1 cup of plain yoghurt, drained
1 tablespoon of the
onion, which had been chopped
1/2 of a garlic clove, which had been chopped
salt to taste
mint, chopped (plus save a few nice leaves to put on top)
Mix all this together, and let the flavors mingle, and then put a dollop of
yoghurt with an extra mint leaf on top of the soup.
a pinch of sugar
Heat the oil in a pan, add a pinch of sugar and
when it caramelizes, add the onions, garlic, turmeric powder. Cook the onions
until they turn brown. Put some on top of the soup.
Spice Powder Garnish
Make a little stencil cut from a piece of paper and
use it to sprinkle bright-colored spices (red or yellow such as curry, or chili
powder) in a pattern on top of the soup.
It is also traditional to include spiced meatballs called Gheimeh or some
other meat, but I left that out and added some baby zucchini and some green
beans and it was delicious. [fuggle26]
Lurk, or as it sometimes called Ajil, was
provided at every Gahambar, and people took some home and shared it with
everyone. It is made from dried fruit and nuts, always with 7 kinds, since that
is the favorite number of Zarathustra. I make lurk every year at least at Novruz
and share it with my friends and celebrate in a secular way. It’s really just
Trail Mix, but it sounds more fun to call it Lurk. The usual ingredients, as
given by Mary Boyce, on p. 38 in A Persian Stronghold ..., are: senjed
or dried oleaster fruit (very common and available in Iran), and dates, raisins,
almonds, dried apricots, plums and mulberries. Other sources list: pistachios,
roasted chickpeas, almonds, hazelnuts, dried figs, apricots, and raisins, with
other possibilities such as walnuts, roasted squash seeds (pepitos), roasted
melon seeds, and cashews. In fact, it’s made out of whatever is available.
• The Chronology of Ancient Nations, translation of Athar-ul-Bakiya of AlBîrûnî, translated by C. Edward Sachau; William H. Allen and Co., London, 1879; available on the net at google books.
• A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism [in Iran], by Mary Boyce, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1977.
• Zoroastrians, Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, by Mary Boyce, Routledge and Kegan Paul, New York, 1979.
This page was published at pierce.yolasite.com/gahambar but Yola went out of business. It is now published here with a few minor corrections, and I am celebrating every year on my very own domain at piereligion.org, where things are going very well!!!
© 2007, last updated 1/21/2013, at piereligion.org/gahambar.html