Growing up, each Autumn we would receive a package from our family in the south of Iran, who were farmers in the Yazd region. The package would always be stuffed with the years harvest; dried sour cherries and mulberries, beautiful and fresh walnuts from their yearly harvest, pomegranates, and always a jar of advieh. Advieh is an Iranian spice blend that changes depending on the region and also the season. Some years, some herbs are more prolific, and become a main ingredient, and other years the same herb can be used minimally or not at all. Advieh was always so mythical and magical to me. When it would arrive, my mother, who was known for her generosity would immediately open the jar, inhale the smells, and then hide it away in a cabinet. She treasured her advieh, and not because she couldn't make her own, she did, but because it was a connection to her culture, family, and the plants and tastes of home. It is a ritual and custom for Iranians to craft advieh, often making enough jars to last the whole year but also to give some as gifts to family and friends. My mother made her own advieh, and I have fond memories of her grounding golpar (angelica seeds) by hand in her mortar and pestle. We would sprinkle the golpar on top of pomegranate seeds, fava beans, and sour plums. She would burn it in combination with esfand (wild rue) to ward off the evil eye. But my mothers favorite way to use golpar was to add it into her advieh.
This year as a part of my own grieving process, I decided to make my own advieh. I added all of the common spices used; rose petals, cardamon, saffron, turmeric, nigella, cinnamon, and angelica seed. I also added some of my own bio-regional variations; rosehips, goldenrod, wild mushrooms. Once it was all ground and mixed together, I took a handful of the powder and sprinkled it in my garden, underneath the tuberose flowers as an offering for my mother. I imagine she is smiling down at me now as I treasure and hide away this precious jar of spices. Advieh is still just has mystical as it was to me as a young girl, but I can now see all that it holds.
It is the flavor and terroir of the land, it is the memory of autumns past, it's a ritual and ceremony, and above else a gift to be shared.