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
Egg decoration is a popular craft in many cultures and traditions. Easter of course is probably the most renowned one in Christian world, but the painted eggs you see here are the ones that my husband and I have painted over the years for the Persian New Year, Norooz, which is celebrated in some 15 countries just a few days before Easter, on the first day of spring.
Each year we paint several boiled eggs, but keep only the prettiest of them. Well, that “winner egg” is usually the one painted by my husband – to the testimony of all the friends and relatives who pay us Norooz visit! Here is how it goes, I boil 5-6 eggs and let them cool and meanwhile get whatever painting tools we need. We start at the same time. I finish painting five and go about preparing dinner or something. He is still working on one. He takes a break and continues working on it after dinner until he gets off the chair with a bad back and happy face: A work of Art, if you ask me! Look at some of them below.