Norooz eggs: Painting with vegetables & fruits

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.

Material needed:

  • 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.

 Method:

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.

Have a happy egg-painting and a VERT Happy Norooz. Welcome Spring!

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

Shirini Keshmeshi or Persian Raisin Cookies for NorouzLabsalliebe

 


Remembering scents

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 »


Beautiful BC indeed!

I finally got to travel to Vancouver after so many years of residing in Canada and so many attempts to go and visit there. The nature and the city is diverse, lively and just magnificent!  Here is a small sample of what I captured through my lenses At: Suspension Bridge, Granville Island, Victoria Ferry, Butchart Garden, Sea to Sky gondola and trail, Whistler Village, Stanley Park, English Bay Beach and more!

Please click on the first image to activate the slide show!

… and a very short video

Some of Vancouver’s (urban) Nature from Afsaneh Hojabri on Vimeo.


Bushehr, the city of fish & warmth

[Please click on the first image below to activate the slide show!]

I miss Bushehr, the seaport where in my parents were born and my family’s heritage is anchored. I miss its narrow rundown alleys, its hot humid climate, and the noisy air-conditioners waging war with the heat most of the year.

I miss my long walks along the shore where people camped and fished and worried and laughed, and where, came the evening,  the flaming sun on the horizon touched down and sank into the sea, with that unique almost audible “jzzz….”

I lovingly miss Bushehr’s fresh vegetable market tainted with the stink of fish and shrimp.

And above all, I miss the taste of those hard-earned, deadly spicy-hot foods, offered in the crowded sofreh with open hearts and smiling faces.

[Pictures taken by my sister, in 2012. Thank you Pari!]


Fall in the air


Facebook notice

My dear friends,

As you might have noticed, I have a face book page for this blog which until recently was used for the sole purpose of reflecting the contents of this blog. Over the past few months however, I have increased my facebook page activities.  I first started with sharing interesting articles, or photographs on food cultures around the world, as well as innovative cuisine from other blogs – the kind of entries that did not have room in my blog but certainly was worth sharing.

Presently, I am also sharing in my facebook page, my own posts as well. These entries are very “short and sweat” so to speak, like a quick tip on how to make walnuts look and taste fresh, here; or a nice picture of Iris in bloom and what they represent, here. These entries are occasional, and might be temporary; I need to share them but they are not “big” or “deep” enough in my mind to occupy a blog space.

Anyhow, I just wanted to keep you posted of the recent development in case you did not know.  BTW, you could always follow me there, by liking my page 😉

 

 


Welcome Summer!

I love the way we, mostly in North American cities, try to make the most of summer by skipping the whole Spring season and calling it “summer” as soon as the temperature raises to  18 C .  After a bitter cold and painfully long winter we have all reasons to rush into summer –especially as the rumor has is we have a short one here in Montreal this year. Well, already boots are out (thanks heaven!) sleeveless out; lots of color out on the streets, shops, gardens, parks, lots of warmth inside and out; And of course a lot of moments to be captured! Have a fun and eventful summer!  (See More Pictures Below!)

Read the rest of this entry »