Kuala Lumpur – As both countries are melting pot of cultures, the theme for the New Year this year was centred on the scrumptious Persian cuisine highlighting specialities from various parts of Iran.
To add an extra dash of flavours to the night, Malaysia’s top celebrity chef and Tourism Malaysia Food Ambassador Datuk Dr Redzuawan Ismail, fondly known as Chef Wan, graced the event to taste the delicacies.
The renowned chef also attempted to make the perfect Persian lamb Kabab on skewers – a challenging task that can only be achieved by skilled chefs of his caliber.
The colourful dinner buffet featured various appetisers, main courses and desserts. Among the main course dishes were various stews, barbequed chicken and lamb kababs, rice dishes and vegetarian options to suit all palates.
The night also walked the guests through the Persian New Year traditions with the showcase of the Haft-Seen arrangement, which is a must-have during the festive season.
The traditional arrangement is basically a special table spread called a “sofreh” with seven everyday items that begin with the letter “S”. Each item is symbolic and has deep meaning to it to start the year with good fortune.
Additionally, video clips showcasing popular tourists’ destinations and historical places in Iran were shown to the guests while they were enjoying their dinner.
The guests were also invited to visit the Embassy’s Cultural Centre art exhibition at the venue, which was set up in conjunction with the New Year. The exhibition features Persian handicrafts, artworks, colourful carpets and rugs as well as batik by Iranian artists living in Malaysia. The exhibition will be open to visitors until Friday, April 2 from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm.
The event, which was hosted at the Embassy’s Cultural Centre in Kuala Lumpur, was attended by other corporate figures, social lights, and members of the press.
Iran Ambassador to Malaysia His Excellency Ali Asghar Mohammadi, in his speech, welcomed the guests and emphasised on the importance of cultural exchange initiatives like food diplomacy between Iran and Malaysia.
“Malaysia and Iran are both melting pot of cultures and there is vast gastronomic diversity in both countries.”
“In fact, food has always brought people from different segments of society together since the ancient time. It is how we get to know each other, make friends, strengthen relationships, celebrate achievements and even mend conflicts.”
Highlighting the importance of food in the tourism sector, Mohammadi said food has always been a key component of tourism as it is one of the important pulling factors for travellers.
“Food is a gateway into other cultures and traditions through taste and the whole experience. It truly marks a lasting impression about one’s culture and even country.
“Thanks to easy accessibility to the internet, today’s tourists are better informed and more cultured; hence they always seek for new experiences that are unique and extraordinary.”
As the tourism sector is crippled globally due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, Mohammadi hoped that the people would be able to travel again once the pandemic is contained.
The Ambassador ended his speech by thanking Chef Wan and the guests for gracing the event.
“It is a pleasure to celebrate the Persian New Year and its delicacies with Malaysia respected culinary expert Chef Wan.”
Nowruz, which literally means “new day” in Farsi, marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which occurs on 21st of March.
Apart from Iranians, the New Year is celebrated by over 300 million people all over the world and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions.
The ancient rite is observed in countries along the Silk Roads, including Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, several other regions and countries across the world also celebrate the arrival of spring.