Somehow this particular tradition -- a holiday known as Chaharshanbe Soori -- had escaped me until now. I mean, my family doesn't even go camping, so I suspect getting a fire lit outside, let alone the grave dangers involved in jumping over it, were just too much for us. But tonight, a sweet coworker named Saba invited me to her home to share in a tradition she holds on to from her own days in Iran. I had no idea what to expect, but I'm so glad to have experienced the warmth of the fire and of Saba's hospitality.
sabzi polo mahi, which sat in my heart much more comfortably than the giant mounds of rice I'm used to at Persian parties. An avocado and cucumber salad, and a bowl of some of the freshest leaves of basil, tarragon, and mint I've ever seen completed the spread.
sabzi polo with perfect tahdig, lemons from Saba's tree
And, oh the company! As we sat on Saba's deck watching the fire burn, she and her friend Asal (Persian for honey) -- a San-Francisco-based artist in town preparing for an opening in Tehran -- fed my endless hunger for stories of current life in that city: this world of thrift store shopping, daily protests in the streets, conversations with cabbies, tea made from leaves freshly picked, pimps decked out in their finest standing on street corners in the middle of the night, and a youth population perfectly well versed in sex, drugs, and rock and roll -- all the delicious details CNN does not cover. I got to speak Persian (nothing new, but lately it's been especially fun), and these lovely women even complimented me! All the while, Asal's husband Bijan kept the vibe going as our DJ for the night.
Oh, and since the sabzi polo page on this blog has now surpassed the homepage in hits, let me give you people what you want: Here is my detailed sabzi polo recipe, and here are a couple photos of the delicious finished product. Let me know if you have any questions!