Persian culture, Persian New Year

How to grow your own sabzeh

Whether you’re growing it for Persian New Year, or you simply think it’s a great DIY idea, we’ve got your how-to-guide for growing and styling sabzeh (with pictures)!

Sabzeh is an important item on the Norooz Table of Seven S’s, the haft sin spread, and symbolises regrowth and new beginnings. It’s usually prepared a couple weeks before Persian New Year (March 20/21) so that the sprouts are ready for the big day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the action at other times of the year.

Growing sabzeh makes for a great school holiday or Easter activity. And the best part is you don’t need any gardening skills to get involved.

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Why not try making mini versions? This year we made a batch of baby sabzeh(!!), to gift to friends, and below we show how you can make them too.

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You will need:
1 cup whole wheat (unpelted)
Tea towel or clean cloth
Colander
Large shallow dish, round or oval shaped (to make baby sabzeh, try using a ramekin)
Spray bottle
Ribbon or twine
Hessian fabric, optional  (try sourcing old potato or rice bags, for an eco friendly option)

Steps: 

Place wheat in a bowl, cover with water and leave to soak for 1-2 days. Change the water a few times a day.

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After a day or two, you should start to see tiny white sprouts. At this time, you’re ready for the next step.

Place a moist towel in a colander and pour the wheat into the centre of the towel.

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Cover the wheat completely with the cloth, and pour water on top.

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Allow any excess water to drain out through the colander. Be careful not to handle the seeds.

Leave the seeds covered in the moist cloth near a window for 2-3 days.

Make sure the cloth remains moist at all times during this stage.

We sprayed the cloth with a little water around 3 times a day, moving the wheat around to make sure all seeds were moistened (pull at the cloth to move the wheat around, don’t handle seeds directly with your hands).

As you can see we had three batches running at the same time this year!

spraying sabzeh mamanskitchen

When you start seeing the sprouts grow white shoots (see below), it’s time to move the wheat onto your display platter (or ramekins for baby version).

wheat sprouting mamanskitchen

Spread the sprouts out in your dish and cover with the cloth.

Sprinkle sprouts directly with a little water a few times a day. Make sure not to drench the seeds, just a light sprinkle will do. Tip the dish slightly (hold the sprouts in place) to pour out excess water after each watering.

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Once the sprouts start to grow and appears green, you can remove the cloth.

Keep the dish on a window sill and continue to sprinkle with a small amount of water each day.
After a few days, you should be well on your way to developing a healthy, lush green sabzeh!

Now time to start thinking about your display…

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For baby sabzeh gifts:
This is your chance to get creative!
We cut out small strips of hessian and tied it on to our ramekins using ribbon and twine.
We also made personalised tags, with instructions on the back for keeping the sabzeh alive longer (just a light sprinkle of water each day, keep in well-lit area).

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For traditional sabzeh: wrap a large satin ribbon around the lower seeds and tie into a nice bow.

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According to Zoroastrian Norooz tradition, the sabzeh will absorb all the negative energy and bad luck in the room over the next couple of weeks. Continue to sprinkle with water each day, until the 13th day. This is usually the 13th day after Persian New Year (around 2 April), which by this time it is said that the sabzeh has absorbed all the bad luck from the previous year and you can now throw it all out!

The 13th day of Norooz is known as sizdah bedar, which literally translates to ‘getting rid of thirteen’. This day marks the end of Norooz celebrations and a return to daily life. Persians usually celebrate this day with a family picnic to clear the mind from all evil thoughts and resume the year with laughter and happiness.

For all the single ladies, tradition has it that you will find your soul mate if you knot a grass blade from your sabzeh on the 13th day (before throwing it out).

Happy Norooz, everyone!

All images ©Maman’s Kitchen


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