Norooz’eh Shomah Mobarak! Happy Persian New Year!
Today is Norooz— “new day”—the biggest Iranian holiday of the year. It’s an ancient Zoroastrian celebration whose roots likely go even further back than that.
Norooz falls on the vernal equinox, and the holiday is all about rebirth and renewal, and a chance to start fresh in a new year. Powerful symbols of rebirth at Norooz are bright green wheat or lentil sprouts, sabzeh in Persian, representing the tiny buds and shoots of plants that reappear in spring. As a way of flushing out anything bad left over from the previous year, it’s customary to grow the sprouts, and then throw them into a moving body of water thirteen days after Norooz.
See my attempt at sprouting in the two photos above. Those are lentil sprouts, started a bit too close to Norooz to be ready in time — but adorable nonetheless! I’m not sure if I’m going to toss them in a river or eat them, we’ll see. Norooz sprouts are supposed to be about the length of the wheat sprouts in the next photo.
Now that it’s Norooz, you may be hearing a lot about Persian cooking, and how beautiful and exotic the food is. You also may be wondering where the heck you’re going to find classic Persian ingredients like dried limes, sumac, and rose petals. Well, as my Norooz gift to you, I’ve added to my site a list of real, brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country where you can find Iranian ingredients. You can always go online and do your shopping, but if you enjoy shopping at specialty stores, like I do, this gives you some options.
Check out the list and let me know if there’s a store that I missed, I’ll add it on. Happy spring!