A celebration of the Persian New Year – Nowruz with a Giveaway

Just shy of a month ago, I began researching Kolompeh, an Iranian pastry that has the appearance of a mini pie with a tantalizing mixture of minced dates, cardamom powder and spices. Kolompeh are works of art and I was taken by their detail and beauty. My research led me to the Zozo Baking site where I was lost in the admiration of the stunning photographs and spirit of a beautiful baker, Fariba Nafissi. The discovery of Fariba’s site marked my gateway to a new addiction – the gorgeous molds used to make Kolompeh and the pastry itself.

My love affair of Middle Eastern cooking, baking and culture began decades ago. I’ve fed this passion of mine through cookbooks, tools, blogs and sharing what information I learn with others. One of my favorite posts involved Middle Eastern cookbooks and, of course, many singular cookbook reviews such as Taste of Persia, The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook and others.

March 21st is Nowruz (or Persian New Year) which translates to a “new day”. Personally, I approach each day as a new beginning – a chance to get things right – a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. To celebrate Nowruz, Fariba agreed to an interview as well as sharing one of her recipes. To gild the lily, I have a quick review of Sweet Middle East and Man’oushé (two favorite cookbooks of mine that deal with sweet treats and baking) and a giveaway of those two titles along with a spice blend (Advieh) and a beautiful cookie mold from Fariba – everything you need to start a wonderful journey to the Middle East in your own kitchen.

We will begin with two titles that focus on Middle Eastern baking. While working on this article, I discovered this book Sweets & Desserts from the Middle East which I ordered. I will update this post once I receive it. 

First up, Sweet Middle East: Classic Recipes, from Baklava to Fig Ice Cream by Anissa Helou was one of the first cookbooks I came across back in 2015 that focused solely on the sweet aspect of Middle Eastern cuisine. Anissa, a cooking instructor and culinary researcher, delivers almost 70 recipes in this vibrant book that any lover of sweets, baking or cuisine from this area of the world would love. The Turkish Pistachio Shortbread (recipe online) and Pistachio-Filled Semolina Pastries were made when I first received the book (we have a thing for pistachios) and they were delicious and easy to create. Pulling the book for this review reminded me of all the other recipes I want to try. I just need another ten hours each day to be able to do that.

Man’oushé: Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery
by Barbara Abdeni Massaad, internationally-acclaimed author of the humanitarian cookbook, Soup for Syria, contains a mouth-watering assortment of Lebanese flatbreads. Seventy recipes are shared in this beautiful book that will have you experimenting with options to enjoy man’oushé which is typically baked in street corner bakeries. Zucchini Turnovers, Feta Cheese Pie and Wild Thyme Pie with Whole-Wheat Flour and Bulgar Dough are samples of the variety in this title. The only title of Barbara Abdeni Massaad that I do not have is Mouneh (Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry, Volume 1) and I continue to search far and wide to make it mine. I have corresponded with Barbara who informed me that she is working on a second edition of this title.

When I first found Farbia’s site, Zozo Baking, my immediate thought was this woman needs to write a cookbook and I hope to help her in that regard. Her work is brilliant, her generous spirit is contagious and her passion for baking is palpable. Fariba was kind enough with her time and talent, especially during this busy baking time for her business, to answer some questions about herself and Persian baking. She is also offering one of her stunning Komopeh cookie molds and the advieh spice mixture in our giveaway so that one of you lucky members can makes these works of art in your own home. Our giveaway also includes a copy of Sweet Middle East (courtesy of Chronicle Books) and a copy of Man’oushé: Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery (courtesy of Interlink Books which had sent me the new paperback version and I realize that I have the hardcover edition already in my collection. These things happen when you are a cookbook junkie) 

Q: Fariba, tell us a little bit about your life before culinary became a big part of it – where were you born, where did you grow up – was culinary always your chosen profession?

I was born in Kerman, the capital city of Kerman providence, in Iran. I lived in many cities in Iran before moving to the USA at age 22.  Culinary has always been my passion, but not my profession until recent years. My desire for baking Persian pastries started at early age in my grandmother’s kitchen, where my mom and her friends were making honey saffron brittles.  Mom who is an excellent self-taught cook and a baker, has been my true inspiration.

I moved to the USA in 1993, I studied psychology at Cal State Long Beach and had a part time job at IKEA. That part time job then became full time and before I knew it, I was climbing the corporate ladder. Through out the years that I was at IKEA, I always baked, baking was therapeutic, was nostalgic, and was the one thing that kept me connected to my roots.

The decision to quit my job of almost 20 years wasn’t an easy one, and to be honest with you, I’m not sure where the shift happened, but for the last year that I was at IKEA, I knew I can’t continue living the corporate life. In July of 2013, I gave my two weeks notice and at the same time I registered for San Francisco Baking Institute. As they say the rest is history.

Q: Your website is beautiful and the items you sell in your shop are so special. The cookie molds – can you share more about where they are made – who makes them? Tips for taking care of them.

Kolompeh stamps and the kolompeh recipe have evolved through out the years. Nowadays there are so many variations of stamps in Kerman.  Some have basic simple design, are made from pine wood, and more affordable; for example the maybod stamp. The most popular stamps have beautiful hand carving work with floral patterns and designs. These stamps are made with durable solid walnut wood and then treated with olive oil.  

Q:  Which do you prefer baking or cooking more – or do you have an equal passion for both like I do?

Oh definitely baking, however when I develop my recipes, I get my inspirations from Persian food/Iranian food. For example, we have a rice dish called jeweled rice that is absolutely a feast for the eye and the palate. The rice is made with lots of saffron, almonds, pistachios, and orange peels. I use the same concept and made my famous jeweled saffron cake.

Q: Who are your culinary idols? Tell us about your favorite cookbooks.

Besides my mom 😉 there are so many chefs that I admire but to name a few, Ariana Bundy has done an amazing job introducing the west to Iranian food and culture. I am fascinated by recipe / travel books that teach people about the diversity of cultures through the foods my recent favorite is Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid.

Q:  Can you tell the history of Kolompeh and any tips for beginners?

Kolompeh (first photo above) is the traditional pastry of Kerman, a city located in the Southeast of Iran near one of the largest Iranian dessert: Dasht-e Lut. Even though Kerman’s climate is dry, oases of dates, pistachios, and orange tree can be found. With the abundance of fresh fruits, people of this region have been using fresh fruits in pastries for years and Kolompeh is no exception.
 Kolompeh is flaky, tender, and naturally sweeten with dates. Kolompeh is as delicious as it is pretty. Kolompeh is made from a simple dough very similar to baghlava dough, then is filled with date paste, stamp with different cookie press designs, and crimped. Date paste is fragrant with Advieh and provides moisture, flavor, and softness to the dough. Advieh is a blend of Persian spices such as cinnamon, cloves, rose petals, and cumin. 

Q: Tell us about the Persian/Iranian New Year and food and cultural traditions?

Iranian New Year is called Nowruz, which literally means new day. Nowruz has been celebrated for more than 3000 years on the day of vernal equinox and since it’s neither a political nor a religious ceremony, it brings all Iranians together. The preparation for Nowruz starts a month in advanced with annual spring cleaning of our homes, lots of baking, and cooking. There are symbolic dishes that we must have during Nowruz like herbed rice/Sabzi-polo with white fish, Persian herbed frittata/ koku sabzi, and herbed noodle soup/Ash-reshte .  All the herbed foods represent our appreciation for the mother earth and to start the year with healthy food choices. 

Nowruz is also a time to bake, baking Iranian pastries takes time and patient, but the result is so rewarding. One of the famous pastries during Nowruz is chickpea cookies or as we say in Farsi Nane-Nokhodchi, gluten free cookies that melt in your mouth with sweet aroma of cardamom. I am pleased to share a recipe for these cookies below.


Yield:   140 pieces
Bake time: 9-12 minutes


3 cups chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
1 & 1/2 cups confectioner sugar
1 teaspoon finely ground cardamom
1/4 cup slivered pistachios


1. Using a food processor, cream together the vegetable shortening and powdered sugar
2. Add chickpea flour and cardamom and mix together until you have a soft dough, keep the dough in a plastic bag and let it rest for 24 hours
3. Preheat your oven to 325 F (165-170 C)
4. Cover baking trays with parchment paper
5. Spread the dough with rolling pin to an inch or half an inch thickness
6. Use a cookie cutter to shape the dough and place the cookies on the baking tray (Optional: Use Pistachio to decorate the cookies)
7. Place the tray on the medium rack of your oven and bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven, if your oven is hot in general, don’t bake them more than 10 minutes). Because the cookies are so soft, you won’t be able to check their doneness.
8. Once out of the oven, it’s very important to let cool completely before storing them.
9. Keep them in an airtight container for up to a month in the refrigerator or up to two months in the freezer.

Our Persian baking package is open to Eat Your Books members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:  Have you cooked or baked any Persian dishes? Please tell us about them. Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest at the end of this post before posting or your entry won’t be counted. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on April 23, 2017

Special thanks to Fariba for sharing her time and her photographs (first photograph featured of the pastry credit to Mahroo @noghleme) with us as well as generously offering a mold and spice mix in our giveaway and to Chronicle Books and Interlink Publishing for copies of two beautiful books for our contest. I recommend signing up for Fariba’s posts (near the bottom of her web page) and following her on Instagram you will be happy that you have this woman’s talent in your life.

Some other recipes to help you celebrate Middle Eastern cuisine can be found at the New York Times, Saveur, AZ Cookbook, My Persian Kitchen, Fig & Quince, Turmeric & Saffron and countless others food blogs.


Post a comment


  • KristenRoberts  on  March 19, 2017

    I've never cooked Persian food! I'd love to experiment though, so many dishes look so good.

  • jahqdruh  on  March 19, 2017

    Most of my experience is with Moroccan and Turkish food — I'd love to branch out.

  • lgroom  on  March 19, 2017

    I lived in Yemen for several years so am well acquainted with middle eastern foods, but I have never cooked anything that was specifically Persian.

  • FunkyViriditas  on  March 19, 2017

    I'd love to try my hand at Persian food! Especially anything with rosewater.

  • rchesser  on  March 19, 2017

    No, I haven't made anything that was specifically Persian.

  • Monaqf  on  March 19, 2017

    I have made a version of a Persian New Year's Noodle Soup. It is so delicious. Also have made a dilled rice-Shivid Polow. Very tasty. Would love to explore dishes.

  • gjelizabeth  on  March 19, 2017

    I've made versions of saffron rice and dill rice. I'd like to try some others.

  • janist  on  March 19, 2017

    I love Persian food. The Persian cookies remind me of Mooncakes.

  • fiarose  on  March 19, 2017

    i have, for the first time very recently, after seeing the nowruz recipe collection on the new york times cooking site! i tried the fresh herb kuku, a beautiful frittata–it was amazing. persian food is so new and unexplored to me, i'm so excited to learn more!

  • Aproporpoise  on  March 19, 2017

    After receiving taste of Persia for Christmas I've been cooking these dishes like crazy! I love the rice dishes. I made a version of jeweled rice, but I'd love to perfect it.

  • allthatsleftarethecrumbs  on  March 19, 2017

    I've made Ma'amoul and they were so deliciously addictive that they barely lasted a day in my house. The molds to make they are so beautiful. Now I'm craving them again 🙂

  • hippiechick1955  on  March 19, 2017

    I have not because I don't own a Persian cookbook however I have eaten Persian food before I live Tehran in 1959. My parents were the proprietors of a bar. We ate Persian food daily and I absolutely loved it. I've eaten many different types of food having lived in various countries. Many I much prefer to American food.

  • Karla123  on  March 19, 2017

    Persian cooking is one area of cuisine I need to explore. Let the culinary journey continue!

  • ldtrieb  on  March 19, 2017

    I love Persian cuisine but have never made any sweets.

  • CuisineQueen874  on  March 19, 2017

    I have never made any Persian sweets but I do enjoy Persian food. I'm looking forward to having the time to cook some things out of my comfort zone when I'm out on maternity leave in a few months.

  • JCBaldassare  on  March 19, 2017

    I love to make Persian soups and stews such as khoresh, but I have't explored much baking. I'm dying to make nan e barbari.

  • ameyfm  on  March 19, 2017

    I love love love persian food! in fact, right now I am in the middle of cooking up a huge storm of persian food for NoRooz – sweets, cookies, candies, ghormeh sabzi, kuku sabzi, sabzi poloh, ashe reshteh, barbari bread, and sooooo much more!

  • BrandiRae  on  March 19, 2017

    I haven't made any Persian food, but recenter I've found myself being drawn in by a whole bunch of Persian cookbooks! The one I borowed from the library currently has a ridiculous number of recipes with post-its…can't wait to start cooking!

  • southerncooker  on  March 19, 2017

    I haven't cooked or baked any Persian food but I'd love to try.

  • sbh2006  on  March 19, 2017

    Beautiful article; I already own both these fantastic cookbooks, but was not familiar with Kolompeh stamps despite owning a large number of Persian cookbooks. I love collecting and learning about bread and pastry tools of the Middle East (I also own and use ma'amoul, ka'ik and Uzbek chekich stamps) and will certainly keep an eye out for these!

  • sgump  on  March 19, 2017

    I've an old (well, okay, maybe ca. 1980s) cookbook with a recipe for "Persian chicken" for which I can't vouch for authenticity: chicken, onions, chickpeas, and loads of warm spices. But it's a delight when served with rice!

  • lpatterson412  on  March 19, 2017

    I have never tried any Persian foods yet, I would love to give some of that Lebanese flatbread a try though!

  • AnnaZed  on  March 20, 2017

    I never have: I would be so fascinated to find out how and what I should make.

  • sbh2006  on  March 20, 2017

    I've reviewed several Persian cookbooks, including "The New Food of Life," "Persiana," and several others, and it is one of my favorite cuisines! I love the herb-studded omelettes, yogurt-based dips, fluffy breads, and using fresh herbs as an accompaniment to dishes. Nush-e-jan!

  • motherofpearl81  on  March 20, 2017

    Nope but I am intrigued and I would be so thrilled to add it to my collection.

  • jupflute  on  March 20, 2017

    I've made a kuku from one of the Ottolenghi books before, and I've made a few other middle eastern things, but I don't really know if they count as Persian.

  • Delora  on  March 20, 2017

    A good friend of mine from college is Persian, and cooks a lot of her family's traditional recipes from Tehran. It's amazing how widely a dish will vary region to region.

  • jenmacgregor18  on  March 20, 2017

    I've made a Persian Noodle soup that I found online. I think it's proper name is Ash Reshteh. Legumes and greens & noodles…and supposed to add whey; but I substituted sour cream.

  • akrupnick  on  March 20, 2017

    Years ago, thank to an Iranian friend, I learned how to cook fesenjen. Two dishes I've since fallen in love with are kuku sabzi (herb frittata) that I plan to make ahead of time for Nowruz, so we have a quick pre-soccer practice snack, and Ash e Anar (split pea meatball soup) — great comfort food.

  • Teawench  on  March 20, 2017

    I have not yet ventured into Persian cuisine

  • Siegal  on  March 20, 2017

    I love making Persian foods! Rose water and pistachio cookies!!!

  • jezpurr  on  March 20, 2017

    Not yet, but plan to!!!^_^

  • Asparagusberry  on  March 20, 2017

    What a fantastic giveaway! Outstanding article too. Crossing fingers. 😉

  • DimSumMamma  on  March 20, 2017

    I love Persian food… I am always looking to figure out how to make the best tahdig. I love that buttery crispy rice!

  • annmartina  on  March 20, 2017

    What an exciting prize!

  • Dechen  on  March 20, 2017

    I have cooked Persian food before, but I leaving the baking to Fariba at Zozo Baking. I've ordered from her before. Her kolompeh and other baked goods are amazing. And Fariba herself is such a wonderful person. Her customer service cannot be matched!

  • Marcia1206  on  March 20, 2017

    I have not cooked Persian food before but I'd love to start!

  • Aggie92  on  March 20, 2017

    I have never cooked Persian food, but I have eaten at a Persian restaurant. My favorite dish was always the rose ice cream. It was delicious!

  • monique.potel  on  March 20, 2017

    i have never cooked any persian dishes but have eaten a heavenly meal at jm haynes sunday dinner in Paris cooked by a great cook

  • sipa  on  March 20, 2017

    I made Fesenjoon for a Persian friend last week.

  • ket06e  on  March 21, 2017

    I have not tried Persian cooking yet, but those Lebanese flatbreads sound amazing!

  • niniacedo  on  March 21, 2017

    I've never cooked Persian food, but I look forward to learning, I have tried middle eastern cuisine and I love it.

  • sefardicook  on  March 21, 2017

    I would love a chance to cook from this book. I have made some of these dishes but would love a little more instruction!

  • Kerreydp  on  March 21, 2017

    I haven't made anything Persian yet, but would love to give it a go!

  • Nproulx  on  March 21, 2017

    I am eager to try some Persian cooking!

  • EleanorFordFood  on  March 22, 2017

    Persian quince recipes are fabulous

  • LMS209  on  March 22, 2017

    I have made a rose water pistachio brittle, and would love to learn more 🙂

  • MmeFleiss  on  March 23, 2017

    My favorite Persian dish that I've made is the jeweled rice.

  • JenE  on  March 23, 2017

    No, not yet. But I'm interested especially in the pastries

  • matag  on  March 24, 2017

    Just went to my first Persian in Las Vegas and would love to cook and bake my own!

  • matag  on  March 24, 2017

    Just went to my first Persian in Las Vegas and would love to cook and bake my own!

  • skipeterson  on  March 24, 2017

    No, have not cooked any Persian. Would like to try.

  • edyenicole  on  March 25, 2017

    I haven't made any Persian food before.

  • auntietina  on  March 26, 2017

    I have not had Persian food before, but am excited to try it.

  • Auntnanny  on  March 26, 2017

    Not yet, but I cannot express how much I love the rose and pistachio flavor combo.

  • tapeitzman  on  March 26, 2017

    I have made the chicken with pomegranate and walnut dish…sorry I cant remember the proper name for it. My Persian friends spoil me with their delicious food which I would love to be able to replicate!

  • cezovski  on  March 26, 2017

    I have made Persian spiced lamb shanks before
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  • bstewart  on  March 26, 2017

    No, I'm eager to try! These chickpea cookies look super!

  • banba1  on  March 26, 2017

    I don't know that I have specifically tried Persian food, but I have explored different types of middle eastern food. The last adventure was lamb/barberry meatballs and fattoush from Jerusalem. Killer recipes!

  • TrishaCP  on  March 29, 2017

    I've made quite a bit of Persian food, but I haven't tried baking yet. Most of what I've made to date has been khoreshes, kukus, and kebabs.

  • sarahawker  on  March 29, 2017

    While I have two Persian cookbooks I still haven't tried. Quite a few ingredients would mean a special trip! But I love it and I know I'll do a whole weekend of Persian cooking soon!

  • rosalee  on  March 29, 2017

    I have never cooked Persian food, but I'd love to try making those chickpea cookies. A co-worker brought in a batch for the new year and they were so delicious!

  • Dmartin997  on  March 29, 2017

    I've made ground lamb kabobs with a yogurt sauce and a Persian barley soup but would like to try more Persian recipes

  • elogibs  on  March 30, 2017

    I haven't made Persian food, but I keep reading and listening about it and want to try!

  • hellmanmd  on  March 30, 2017

    I've wanted to do a Nowruz celebration for a few years now.

  • auntcookie  on  March 30, 2017

    Kuku is a go-to quick dish in our home.

  • hannahgoldberg  on  March 30, 2017

    Kebabs and vegetable salads pretty often, some flatbreads and filo pastries too.

  • anastasiiap  on  March 30, 2017

    No, have never made Persian food, but would love to try

  • Ordinaryblogger  on  March 31, 2017

    No, but I look forward to trying!!!

  • Katiefayhutson  on  March 31, 2017

    I've made a few Middle Eastern dishes but never that were specifically Persian. I would love to try!

  • sherrib  on  March 31, 2017

    I am Persian, so, yes, I've made Persian food and have happily eaten it all my life. Sadly, though, I've never heard of Kolompeh and am very interested in trying it!

  • Amdona  on  April 1, 2017

    I've made baklava a handful of times. I love baklava!

  • MeganGarcia  on  April 4, 2017

    I've never cooked Persian food, but I love eating it. I've cooked Lebanese food. I love middle eastern cuisine.

  • ravensfan  on  April 7, 2017

    I have never cooked Persian food but am interested to try.

  • hrhacissej  on  April 7, 2017

    I'm a newbie to cooking Persian foods…fingers crossed that I am the winner, so I can give some of these recipes a try…thanks for the opportunity!

  • Twistie  on  April 7, 2017

    I've never cooked any Persian food, but I'd love to try… especially some delicious baked goods. I'm always eager to try out a cuisine I haven't cooked before.

  • DarcyVaughn  on  April 7, 2017

    I made ghormeh sabzi last spring to deal with a glut of parsley and cilantro, and was glad I did. I will be making it again this spring when the parsley goes bonkers.

  • rosyannposy  on  April 7, 2017

    I have tried a few Persian dishes and made similar chickpea cookies recently, using oil, from Honey and Co baking. Great for a gluten free friend.

  • t.t  on  April 8, 2017

    I've made chickpea cookies and fessenjoon.

  • Sakurajima  on  April 8, 2017

    I've never cooked or baked any Persian dishes.

  • Blowfish  on  April 8, 2017

    My favorite Persian foods involve rice: mujadarra and rice with turmeric and cardamom are both staples in my home. Can't get enough of either one!

  • danafox  on  April 8, 2017

    Many years ago I found a Persian Lamb Kabob recipe. The marinade is delicious and it is now a family favorite. I always make tabbouleh with it with fresh mint and parsley from my garden Dana

  • ballen  on  April 8, 2017

    I have not cooked or baked any Persian dishes but am anxious to try!

  • marnone  on  April 8, 2017

    I'm excited about new ways to use tahini in desserts.

  • rennots  on  April 8, 2017

    I love Persian food but have never cooked any

  • SujataNaik  on  April 8, 2017

    Never cooked, but want to try – sound delicious!

  • ksadowski64  on  April 8, 2017

    I am looking forward to steeping saffron 🙂

  • tangaloor  on  April 9, 2017

    Never cooked or baked anything Persian – my middle eastern exposure has been all ottolenghi so far

  • Deneenm  on  April 10, 2017

    not yet but after I win this amazing giveaway I'm sure I'll be busy in the kitchen 🙂

  • beetlebug  on  April 11, 2017

    I've cooked a variety of middle eastern food. I especially love the meat and rice dishes. And, tahini cookies are some of my favorites.

  • TwoGrants  on  April 13, 2017

    I worked in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Cambridge and feel head-over heels in love with the flavors. I'm always looking for new recipes to try and ways to use my Lebanese flower waters.

  • Uhmandanicole  on  April 14, 2017

    does the rice pudding count? i did try making that once with cardamom and cinnamon and it was SO delicious!

  • imaluckyducky  on  April 15, 2017

    The only real Persian food I've made has been a rice dish that has dill and fava beans in it. I'd love to explore more!

  • RSW  on  April 17, 2017

    Have never cooked Persian food. Have been expanding into other cuisines lately and would love to try.

  • Hockeyluver2002  on  April 17, 2017

    I love Persian food, I particularly love Baklava

  • JanScholl  on  April 18, 2017

    I have not made any but have eaten some. My daughter's brother in law just married a Persian girl. I am sure we will learn a lot about the area and the food and I hope the music.

  • kimtrev  on  April 18, 2017

    I have made Fesenjan for a Persian themed dinner party.

  • ddenker  on  April 18, 2017

    I have never made any Persian food, but would love to start.

  • pandapotamus  on  April 20, 2017

    Never cooked any persian recipes, but would love to try!

  • alemily  on  April 22, 2017

    I've made middle eastern dishes in the past that I've found recipes online, but sadly do not recall if they were persian or not.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!