Strengthening Iran-Malaysia friendships through food and cultural diplomacy

Strengthening Iran-Malaysia friendships through food and cultural diplomacy

KUALA LUMPUR: The Iranian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur welcomed the Persian New Year, Nowruz, on Monday with a focus on cultural exchange and food diplomacy between Iran and Malaysia.

In an event filled with scrumptious Persian cuisine, Iran’s Ambassador to Malaysia Ali Asghar Mohammadi emphasised on the importance of cultural exchange initiatives while describing both countries as melting pot of cultures with vast gastronomic diversity.

“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,” he told reporters at the event.

The event was graced by Malaysia’s top celebrity chef and Tourism Malaysia Food Ambassador Datuk Dr Redzuawan Ismail, fondly known as Chef Wan, to add an extra dash of flavours to the night.

The renowned chef also attempted to make the Persian lamb Kabab on skewers, a challenging task that can only be achieved by skilled chefs of his calibre.

“Its not an easy thing, it takes years of practice and experience, but it was not the first time I tried,” adding that he really enjoyed the Persian cuisines as they used a lot of spices, fruits and peanuts.

The colourful dinner buffet featured various appetisers, main courses and desserts. Among the main course were stews, barbecued chicken and lamb kababs, rice dishes and vegetarian options to suit all palates.

Nowruz (also spelled Norouz, Norooz, Navruz, Nauryz and other variants), is the most cherished of all Persian festivals and an important holiday in Central Asia, the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East and other regions.

The traditional festival is celebrated on the first day of the spring season or the Vernal Equinox, which usually occurs on March 21, or the previous or following day – depending on where it is observed.

Meanwhile, on tourism which is badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, Ali Asghar believes that the industry will bounce back to pre-pandemic level as vaccination programme is being rolled-out in both countries.

“In the coming months after this Covid-19 issue, maybe thousands of Iranians would like to visit Malaysia again. The beauty of the nature, the culture, the food, there’s every reason for the tourists to come to Malaysia,” he said.

Ali Asghar said the Iranian Embassy is also drawing up programmes to promote the country’s tourism sector to Malaysians.

“In 2018 and 2019, the number (of tourist) was increasing and we were very happy to see thousands of Malaysians visiting Iran, but unfortunately due to Covid-19, it stopped,” he said.

The International Day of Nowruz, listed in 2009 in the United Nation’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a cultural tradition observed by more than 300 million people around the world for over 3,000 years. — Bernama