Let's make Haft Mewa, Afghan Nowroz/Nowruz, (New Year) Seven Fruit Compote! — Home | Afghan Culture Unveiled (2023)

By Humaira,

Exactly one year ago today, San Francisco, where I live, had its first shut down due to the pandemic but the tide has changed…

I received my first dose of the Covid vaccine yesterday. After bursting into tears (of joy), I settled into a place of gratitude and appreciation for all we have to look forward to as a nation and ways we can celebrate around the world as everyone is inoculated in the upcoming months.

So it is fitting that with this renewed hope for the upcoming months we can safely welcome Spring and Nowroz a New Year festival celebrated in Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Kurdistan, the Indian Sub Continent, and many immigrant communities around the world. Although each country, region, and family celebrates Nowroz differently, you can be sure that people eat lots of food, wear special clothes, attend picnics and festivals.

But, this year we may need to exercise caution when celebrating Nowroz. We are all tired of social distancing, I get it, but if you’re not vaccinated, stick within your pod or have a small gathering in a park. Take joy in an intimate gathering with the foods I’ll be sharing in this post. Don’t take the risk of exposing yourself or loved ones when we are at the home stretch. You will have the summer months for parties and picnics.

Now, on to Nowroz….

I hope you enjoy this docu-demo (recorded pre-pandemic) showcasing the vibrant Afghan community of Northern California with a field trip to the “Little Kabul” district of Fremont, California, and a demonstration of my favorite Nowroz food, Haft Mewa, Seven Fruit Compote. Please feel free to share this post and any of my YouTube videos with friends, family, and on your social media. I write these posts and make the videos as a way to share my culture. Trust me, these are not money makers but I do appreciate your effort in helping me get the word out about Afghan culture and food with the bigger world.

Nowroz was originally a Zorastrian celebration that preceded Islam in Central Asia and the Middle East and therefore it’s not considered a Muslim holiday.

Nowroz falls on the Spring Equinox which mostly falls around March 20th. This date represents the first day of the first month of the Afghan year according to the solar calendar. The difference between the Afghan and occidental calendar is 621 years, so on March 20th, we’ll be celebrating the year 1399 in Afghanistan. The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution of 2010, proclaimed March 21st as the "International Day of Nowruz".

(Video) HAFT MEWA, AFGHAN 7 FRUIT COMPOTE | A VISIT TO 'LITTLE KABUL' OF CALIFORNIA | NOWRUZ NEW YEAR (2020)

Like all traditions, every family has their own take on it. When we lived in Afghanistan, our family’s Nowroz preparations began in early in March with khana takanee, a thorough house cleaning which included:

Once the house was spotless and ready for entertaining, we were measured for new outfits, new shoes, and coats which also served as our school outfits since the Afghan schools start a week After Nowroz. The Afghan school year runs between March to November.

Most of the foods prepared and served around Nowroz are meant to signify new hope, prosperity and good crop for the upcoming year. My favorite is Haft Mewa, a seven (dried) fruit compote where a mix of seven nuts and fruits are soaked overnight and served to guests on the first day of Nowroz. Traditionally the haft mewa ingredients are black & yellow raisins, senjid (the dried fruit of the oleaster tree), pistachio, walnuts, almonds, and dried apricot. I decided to make Haft Mewa with ingredients purchased from my local market, except for the rose water, I had to get that from a specialty store. This is a very flexible recipe, just use dried fruit and nuts that you have in your pantry. All nuts, especially walnuts, are great brain food and by soaking them overnight you are activating or sprouting them. This process allows our body to absorb all the great vitamins in the nuts.

Preparation of Samanak, a halwa like pudding (for lack of a better word), is made from wheat germ and only cooked once a year during Nowroz. Making samanak takes over a week and on the occasion of Nowroz, women gather around a pot of samanak to sing, tell stories and catch up on the past winter’s gossip.

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Other special foods for Nowroz include Sabzi, braised spinach, and challaw, Afghan white rice, on the eve of the celebration to welcome spring and a prosperous crop.

Also, bakeries make Kulcha e Now Rozee a rice flour-butter cookie, very similar to our gluten-free rice recipe, usually decorated with beautiful colors in honor of the holiday.

People also make or buy fried fish and jelabi (fried sugar dessert) which are mostly taken to on picnic.

Buzkashi Tournament:

Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan, similar to polo but instead of using a ball and mallet, the teams (on horseback) compete to gain possession of a headless goat carcass which they take to a scoring area. In Kabul and also in northern provinces Buzkashi tournaments are held around Nowroz.

Mela e Gul e Surkh:

The Red Flower Festival is the red tulip bloom, mainly celebrated in Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan where many people travel to experience the gorgeous flowers.

In Kabul, Herat and where it’s safe, people attend picnics to enjoy the greenery, flowers and time with family. Of course, kite flying, a national pastime in Afghanistan, is at the center of all these outings.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Nowroz Celebration and if you decide to make my haft mewa recipe, please let me know how it turned out.

If you liked my Nowroz video, please share it with friends, family, and on your social media and together we can share Afghanistan’s culture with the world.

Sal e now e shoma Mubarak! Happy Nowroz!

Afghan New Year Dried Fruit Medley

½ cup walnuts

½ cup pistachios

½ cup yellow raisins

1 cup red raisins

½ cup dried bing cherries (not sour cherries)

1 cup dried apricots (look for sweet ones)

½ cup blanched, slivered almonds

½ tsp. rosewater (optional)

5 cups cold filtered water

Large (at least 5 pints) lidded container with a wide mouth

Begin by blanching the walnuts and pistachios. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, remove from the heat, add the walnuts and pistachios, cover and let it sit for 20 minutes.

In the meantime in a large bowl add both kinds of raisins, cherries, and apricots. Rinse three times (or until the water runs clear) in cold water to remove any residue.

When the nuts are ready, pour the hot water out and add a little cold water. That way you won’t burn your hands.

Peel the skin off the nuts using the best method you can muster up. I must admit, the pistachios were a dream but the walnuts take patience, which I don’t have.

I found if you have a whole walnut, break it in half and then start peeling. It really makes it easier. Give yourself around 20 minutes for this; perhaps recruit family members to help. Make sure all the skin is removed from the pistachios and the walnuts, no exception.

Add the dried fruit and the nuts to the container along with the rosewater and 5 cups of cold water. Stir well. The water should be at least 1 inch above the ingredients. Refrigerate overnight and it’s ready to go. .It will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Serve in a bowl with its juices. I also think it would taste wonderful on vanilla or mango ice cream or plain yogurt.

Serves 6

FAQs

What is Sinjet? ›

What is senjed? Symbolizing love, senjed is a small berry that goes by many names such as Russian olive, silver berry, oleaster, or wild olive. In some languages, it's also called “paradise fruit”, which probably comes from its mention in the Quran.

How is Nowruz celebrated in Afghanistan? ›

People often picnic and play music outdoors and a banner-raising ceremony known as Jahenda Bala, takes place at two mosques in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif. Residents from the capital and from northern Afghanistan where Nowruz is particularly popular, told Reuters this year had been much quieter than usual.

What are sips in Afghanistan? ›

This Special Immigrant Visa program is available to persons who worked with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator or interpreter in Iraq or Afghanistan. This program, which offers visas to up to fifty persons a year, remains active.

What is dehydrated fruit? ›

Dates are one of the earliest dried fruits that were eaten. Dried fruit is made by taking the water out of the fruit by sun drying or using a special machine called a dehydrator. Since the water is removed during drying, this also means that the natural sugars in the fruit are concentrated.

Is Nowruz Haram in Islam? ›

According to sharia law, Muslims are not allowed to do what infidels do, so nowruz is haram, but it's celebrated in many regions which used to be persian teritories, cultural borders of iran is beyond its geopolitical borders, and in eastern part of so-called Islamic word, persain influence is deeper and stronger than ...

Why was Afghanistan banned Nowruz? ›

The ban comes at a time when this food-centered holiday is harder to celebrate; rates of food insecurity and malnutrition have reached proportions described by the World Food Programme as "hell on Earth." This is largely because of sanctions and the freezing of Afghan assets that have resulted in the collapse of the ...

What is the Colour of Nowruz 2022? ›

Nowruz color 2022

During Nowruz, people usually dress in a variety of colors such as dark green, crimson, black, and blue, depending on their culture.

How can I bring my family from Afghanistan to USA? ›

How can I/my family apply? If you lawfully live in the United States and want to apply for P3 status for family members in Afghanistan, you must visit your local refugee resettlement office and fill out an Affidavit of Relationship for each member of your family. To find your local resettlement office, click here.

Who qualifies for SIV? ›

SIVs are available to individuals who have worked as translators, interpreters, or other professionals employed by or on behalf of the United States government in Afghanistan or Iraq. Those who are eligible for these visas and their dependents can apply through one of two SIV programs.

What is CRM in SIV? ›

CiviCRM (/ˈsɪvi ˌsiːɑːrˈɛm/ SIV-ee C-R-M) is a web-based suite of internationalized open-source software for constituency relationship management that falls under the broad rubric of customer relationship management.

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