How to Grow Sabzeh/Sprouts
For Persian New Year or Nowroz
When you look up Haft-seen online a Wikipedia page with the full list of what is needed for your spread pops up. Haft-seen means the seven s’s in Farsi. This is a spread Persians have been putting on their alter for Persian New Year for 3000 years. It was a tradition which began by Zoroastrians.
Nowruz, meaning New Day marks the start of the Persian Calendar which is congruent with the astrological calendar. This year Nowruz arrives on March 20, 2021 at 2:37:28 AM PST. If you’d like to know the exact time of Nowruz where you live you can get that from: https://www.7seen.com/
With the migration of Iranians to different parts of the world in the past forty years I thought it was necessary to post something about growing your own sabze/sprouts in English.
I believe sabzeh is the most important part of your Nowruz spread. It is also the first item on Wikipedia’s list when you look up Haft-seen.
- Sabzeh (سبزه) — wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haft-sin )
In the past I’ve always purchased it from the Persian market. This year marks the first year I’ve succeeded at making my own sabzeh. However, it was not easy. I failed many years in a row. As a Persian woman there is a lot that is expected of us and we gladly rise to the occasion. Let’s face it many cultures are tough on their woman, and Persia is no exception.
Far from perfect I never had a green thumb and I almost killed all the house plants that came into my possession.
I love nature and being in nature so it was always upsetting when I lost a house plant. Growing up my father was the perfect role model at planting a garden and my mother made the best sabzeh and her house plants always looked healthy and green. Even though I helped my dad in the garden and my mom in the kitchen when she made her sabzeh every year somehow it didn’t transfer to me when I became a home owner.
It took several years of practice and indirectly murdering several house plants until I learned I must treat my house plants as members of my family. I had always watered and feed my plants, but in between watering them I totally ignored them. I learned this the hard way.
One time my cousin who was managing a travel rock bank left the singer’s house plants with me for the duration of about four months while they toured the world. There was 25 of them and when he returned most of the pots were empty and the five potted plants that were still there were barely surviving.
He was so sad that he had tears in his eyes. He said the singer normally sings to his plants and treats them like his children if he saw what was left of them he might do something drastic. Till this day this has been a secret between he and I. I was so saddened by this. There and then I decided that I need to overcome this shortcoming by being better at keeping house plants.
We never forget to feed our kids so I imagined my plants as the quiet kids who don’t peep and go unrecognized. So, I realized I must not only feed my plants but also talk to my plants, and tell them that I love them, feed them on time.
I had this little plant right next to my chair where I meditated daily. That Christmas break I took a three weak trip for the Holidays and forgot to give the plant to my neighbor to look after. I was sure when I got back the plant would be dead. But I had it my thoughts and decided to trust sprit to take care of it.
When I got back home the first thing I check on was that little plant in my altar. To my surprise not only was it alive and well but it had also grown new leaves. That was when I knew I finally figured out this house plant ownership deal. I knew it was 70% love and attention and 30% trust in the sprit world to take care of it. It was a magical experience, one that has left a good spot in mind and soul.
Today I put plants near my altar and meditate over them for a few days before giving them away. I hear from my friends that the plants they’ve received from me are alive and well. Today I also put gifts and trinkets in my altar before giving them away.
Let’s begin with your home made Nowruz sabzeh. You must give it time and effort, specially for the first few couple of batches. With practice the following batches will be much more effortless.
To grow something from a tiny seed you must believe in the nonphysical. You put the seed in the right environment and wait. At this point you have no physical control over the outcome, except your belief in magic or trust in sprit. As my grandmother says: keep your heart pure. By keep your heart and focus on the right outcome your sprout will result in a beautiful and full sabzeh just in time to Nowruz.
It’s similar to the magic that Christians around the world believe in. All the children even when they are older believe in the magic of Christmas. The magic for the Persians is in growth and movement towards a new year with new beginnings. At the end of the day we have more in common with the people around us than we are lead to believe.
One of the reasons Persians and our culture seems so exotic is that we’ve closed ourselves to others in the new countries which we live in. It’s time to put some assumptions to rest by sharing our culture with the rest of the world.
Now, let’s talk about the items you will need to grow your own Sabzeh (or sprouts) You may use wheat, barley, mung beans, or lentils. A plate or dish of your choosing, water, tender love and care. You will need to start the process 12–10 days prior to Nowruz.
Step One: Chose the dish you will want to grow your sprouts. This way you know exactly how much dry wheat or beans you’ll need to completely cover your dish.
Step Two: In another bowl put in the dry beans of you choice, usally 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup depending on the size of your dish. Next you may cover it with water for 48 hours. You will want to check on it every few hours to add water if needed. As the beans observe the water and expand they will need more water.
Step Three: On the third day you will see beautiful tiny sprouts peaking out. At this stage place all of you sprouted product into the dish you chose. The sprouts must cover all the area of the dish and even overlap for a fuller patch.
Step Four: Keep watering your sprouted beans or wheat and watch it closely so that you don’t over water or under water. For the next 48 hours cover the sprout with wet cloth so that the top layer is also being watered.
Step Five: By the 6th day you will have 1/2 an inch of greens. At this stage you may take off the wet cloth and water the plant once in the morning nad one in the afternoon. Make sure you don’t over water as that could also kill the plant.
Step Six: At this point you may put your sprouts in partial sun light to help it grow.
Step Seven: A fully grown sabzeh has reached its peak after 10 to 12 days and is ready for you Nowruz altar.
Step Eight: As an option you may add a pretty ribbon around your sprouts for an added zing as demonstrated in the first photo.
I hope this was helpful. Wishing you a happy Nowruz celebration this Saturday March 20th. I hope that you begin the year in good health, prosperity and unity. If you have suggestions in regards to keeping house plants or growing sprouts I would love to hear from you in the comment section.
Aideh Shoma Mobarak!~
Happy New Year (English Translation).