Only five days left till the Persian new year, Norooz, celebrated by some 187 million people across the globe on the first day of spring, this year on March 20th. And right now, in every Iranian’s household at least one person is quite busy (you know who that person is, right) – from shopping new cloths, to cleaning house to preparing haftsin table, tending to sabzeh and of course painting hard boiled eggs. Watch my brief video clips here here for a colorful introduction of Norooz celebration and here for a “very fast” preparation of Norooz table! Don’t forget to check out the links below for Norooz-special blogs by my friends at #PersianFoodBloggers.
From ancient time, dyeing and decorating eggs has been a significant symbol in many cultures around the world – from the Zoroastrian Norooz dating back to over 3000 years ago, to the Jewish Passover to the Christian Easter, eggs are painted in solid or multicolored often to symbolize rebirth. In my youth time, my older sisters used to dye Norooz eggs by wrapping them in color bleeding pieces of brightly colored cloths, tightly sewing them in and hard boiling them in salted water. The cooled eggs would then emerge from the wet cloths delicately colored and patterned. In my household too, we usually take the egg painting quite seriously, often going to some length to actually paint the eggs in detailed and complicated designs. Watch some of those here.
For the first time this year, and after doing a bit of research, I decided to use all natural colors and “painting” material to create colors and patterns on my Norooz eggs. And by natural I mean using vegetables, fruits, spice, leaves and flowers. The process described below proved to be a bit long and messy, but quite amusing and fun nonetheless. I was definitely astonished at the array of colors we have at our disposal in our kitchens without even realizing it. So, without further ado, here are the steps I took. You could perhaps use these as a guideline to work on and enjoy your own creation.
- Dyeing sources: Depending on the colors you like, you would need different dying agents: I went with: Red Cabbage, for Royal and light blue. Red grapes and blueberries, for lavender. Beets for pale red. Turmeric for deep and pale yellow. Saffron tea for brownish orange!
- Note: Despite what I read on several sites, I was not able to produce naturally green eggs using spinach or deep red using beets.
- Design sources: Basically there is no limit to the pattern you can borrow from mother nature – plants, leaves, flower petals, and herbs such as coriander, parsley and dills for creating patters on eggs. The trick, I learned, is to choose very small flowers, and defined leaves.
- Eggs: As many as wish you have in a bowl at the Norooz table + 2 or 3 extra for possible causalities!
- Nylons and elastics (for wrapping the eggs in)
- With vinegar, salt, few containers, and plenty of water.
Take eggs outside the fridge for at least half an hour. Place them in a pot and cover with room temperature water. Mix in 2 tbsp. salt and very slowly bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then using a spoon take the eggs out, cool and dry.
To produce your desired dyeing agent for, let’s say dyeing 2 eggs, you need 3 cups of chopped vegetable or fruit, (OR 2 tbsp. if it’s a spice such as turmeric), 2 cups of water, and 2 tbsp. white vinegar.
Place your chopped vegetable/fruit or spice in a pot. Add 2 cups of water plus 2 tbsp. vinegar to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for half an hour before Straining the liquid into a container. Repeat this process for each and every dye you like to make and place them all in separate containers or bowls.
From your pool of selected leaves, petals, flowers, and herbs, take one or two and press them against an egg with one hand. With your hand cover the egg in a piece of nylon that you have already cut and wrap the egg in tightly.
Place the wrapped boiled eggs in your dye container, as you wish. To get pale colors remove after a few hours, but for deeper colors soak overnight. In my experience red cabbage gave a very nice intense royal blue, all the rest range between mild to pale colors. Remove from your dyeing agent and unwrap eggs one at the time, gently removing any leaf or petal sticking to it. Place on a rack and let dry.You should get a nice white(ish) pattern underneath. In some cases my nylon wrapping was not tight enough so the dye had penetrated under the leaf and the design was sort of abstract! But I did not mind them at all. I’ve made two patches so far and each time I have 2-3 favorites.
Below is more recipes and ideas from my talented friends at PersianFoodBloggers group. PFB_Norooz2018
Persian Herb and Feta Platter (Sabzi Khordan), Family Spice
Nabat or Saffron Rock Candy, Parisa’s Kitchen
For the first two weeks of October, my husband and I had a blast visiting Andes and remains of the ancient Inca civilization in and around Cusco, Peru: Stunning landscapes, magical lush valleys and foggy mountains, mind blowing stone work and engineering, delicious fresh food, colourful handicrafts, soothing music and of course a lot of history! A history almost too painful to hear of Spanish colonization demolishing the Inca Empire, looting their treasures, enslaving them and brutally suppressing resistance movements up to the 18th century!
Cusco, once Incas’ capital, has half a million population today and according to one of our tour guides 80% of the city’s economy depends on tourism. This includes not only food, lodging, entertainment, heritage businesses small and large, but also native women who make a living by knitting sweaters and hats out of Alpaca wool, and by dressing up in colorful clothes along with their Alpacas and baby goats to take pictures with tourists. Read the rest of this entry »
Summer Solstice, sunset in “lac des Deux Montagnes”, at 8:47
That time of the year again, around spring and Persian New year, Norooz – the perfect time to find the motivation to write, to post, and to cherish and share the wonderful moments where people, plants and beautiful customs come to a renewed life one more time. Below is a selection of pictures taken by my sister, in several Iranian cities, including Shiraz, Yazd, Booshehr, Dargahan and Tehran, during the months of March to April 2016.
Sensory cues are powerful mediums for setting moods and evoking emotions because they possess within themselves the magical quality of carrying small pockets of memories across time and space -memories inhabited by peoples, places, and events; memories which might be pleasant or sad; familiar or rare.
To me, the scent of cinnamon and apple promises the prospect of baking in a cozy kitchen on a beautiful cool autumn day. The scent of old vinegar, when trapped in a cabinet, always transports me back in time to my childhood when I visited my aunt’s old house and held my breath while playing seek and hide in her food storage lined with tens of “torshi” ceramic jugs. Read the rest of this entry »