"From late February, the hills in Southern Kurdistan are blossoming with wild foods," recalled chef Pary Baban, owner of Nandine, a Kurdish eatery in the South London neighbourhood of Camberwell. "People forage for herbs and fresh ingredients, cook feasts and bring picnics into the mountains. Newroz isn't just one day; it is the entire season of spring."
Newroz, also called "Nowruz" in Persian, is the Kurdish and Persian New Year that has more than 3,000-year-old roots in the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism. Each year, Newroz, which literally translates to "new day", is celebrated on the spring equinox to welcome a new year, new life and new beginnings.
"Newroz is something special for us," said Baban. "It's the only thing the government couldn't take away from us when Saddam Hussein came to power. Kurdish people never give up; they still go out and celebrate. It's our identity."