Tag Archive | Christian

Little fast, little feast

I have been looking back to see what I was writing about this time last year, and surprise surprise, Advent and Christmas were the topics of the day. Again, it’s hard to believe that it is exactly a year since I wrote the post whilst we were in the midst of the big freeze. I remember driving to the station one morning when it was -10 degrees. Today it is +10 degrees. 

In Iran 1 December marks the beginning if the “Little Fast” followed by some Christians during the 25 days leading up to Christmas Day known as “Little Feast”.   Although Iran is predominantly an Islamic nation, there are also some Moslems who celebrate Christmas as a non-religious festival. Christmas trees and decorations are bought, turkeys ordered and sometimes gifts are exchanged in the same way as we do here in the UK.

During the 25 day “Little Fast” which is meant to purify body and mind, Orthodox Christians follow a diet free of meat and dairy products only breaking their fast when Communion is received early on Christmas morning. To break their fast, the traditional dish of Harissa is eaten and here is a recipe for the chicken and barley stew.

Enjoy!

Armenian Harissa
Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups whole wheat kernels, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • butter
How to cook it
Rinse chicken and place in large pot with 8 cups water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, with the pot partially covered until chicken is cooked.
Remove chicken from liquid; place on platter and allow to cool enough to handle. Discard skin, bones and fat. Shred chicken; cut into smaller pieces, if necessary.
Strain broth. Measure broth, and add enough water to make a total of 8 cups
Place broth in large pot. Add wheat, shredded chicken, and salt if necessary. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Remove any foam which rises to the surface.
Simmer on a very low heat, without stirring, covered, for about 4 hours
Beat vigorously with a sturdy, long-handled, wooden spoon, mashing the wheat and chicken until they resemble thick oatmeal. Adjust salt, if needed.
To serve: place in bowls. Add a pat of butter, if desired. Sprinkle with a dash of cumin or paprika to taste.
 
ArmenianHarissa.jpg

Time flies

I can’t believe that it has been almost two weeks since I last posted. I have done so much but achieved so little and it is beginning to dawn on me that today being the start of Advent, Christmas will soon be here.

The late November temperatures are higher than average, my geraniums and fuchias are blooming merrily and yet I have a holly tree bursting with red berries. It looks rather incongruous to say the least but I’m not complaining.

So the great Christmas countdown begins in earnest and I need to get my act together soon if I’m to post my cards in good time. I’m not a fan of the commerciality, hassle and hub-bub of Christmas at the best of times but this year I have much more exciting things to do than go racing round the shops.

In the meantime, Will has a football match and I need to get to the craft shop if I’m to finish my pages today. Christmas cards and garlands have to wait.

 

 

 

 

All Saviour’s (Vank) Cathedral Esfahan

The Armenian Christian sector of Esfahan is still a thriving community albeit much depleted from the mid-1960’s when the population reached approximately 100,000. Not many people realise that a Christian area exists in the predominantly Muslim city and it is in the section known as Julfa south of the Zayande Rud river that you will find the 13 remaining churches out of the original 30 or so.

On a beautiful sunny morning we visited just the one; and it is spectacular. The All Saviour’s (Vank) Cathedral is an amazing visual feast of religious murals, gold décor and superb architecture together with a selection of ancient artefacts and historical information located in the Cathedral museum.

In the midst of all the family celebrations and visiting relatives it was lovely to find a haven of peace and serenity in the almost deserted church and its grounds and I could have spent hours sitting on a bench looking at the frescos and murals trying to take in the exquisite detail.

Once inside the museum, for someone who had no idea what a chasuble was only last week it was rare treat to see two gorgeous examples on display. Sadly, no photos are allowed and postcards of the cathedral and exhibits are almost non-existent. I did however manage to take some of the external features but unfortunately I am unable to download them whilst in Iran. However, I have found a photo gallery and I think you’ll agree that it is beautiful.

Enjoy.