This beautiful symbol of spring is called ‘Sabzeh Nowruz‘ which is the sprouted wheat ‘gandom’ grown for Sofreh Haftseen on Persian New year. Sabzeh is the symbol of rejunvination and new life and it is one of the ever present items on this very ancient ceremony. Nowruz, also spelled, Norooz, Norouz means ‘new day,’ and it is the celebration of the first day of spring. This post is a tutorial for growing Sabzeh. I have been using this technique in the recent years and it has worked every time, and some friends have requested that I post it here. I will point out all of the factors that I have experimented and observed over the years for growing a gorgeous, lush green sabzeh.
(Day 1) – Begin with some current year’s unpelted wheat, or ‘gandom e sabzeh.’ The freshness of the wheat berries is essential for successful sprouting and a full-looking sabzeh. Unpelted means, the outer bran layer is intact and this is the only kind of wheat that should be used for this purpose. It is usually sold in 12-ounce packages and is available at Persian Markets. The natural food stores also sell unpelted wheat for making wheat grass juice. It is a good idea to pick through the wheat and remove the broken pieces, the ones with black dots, and the thin and shriveled ones. These imperfect pieces don’t sprout and rot, which subsequently result in mold growth in the roots.
Select the dish that you are planning to use for your sabzeh. I recommend a shallow dish with sides instead of a flat plate; this helps keep the fine roots moist during the sprouting. Add enough dry wheat to cover the bottom of the dish, about 1/4 of an inch (1/2 cm). Transfer the dry wheat to a medium bowl and briefly wash it to get rid of any dirt; you will be using your dish later.
To soak the wheat: Add enough fresh water to cover the wheat by one inch. Soak for 24 hours over the counter away from the sun. At the end of this time the wheat will swell up to about twice its dry size. Change the water 2-3 times.
*Avoid using water from the water softener, which tends to stunt the growth of the wheat and results in spars and uneven growth.
(Day 2) – Line the bottom of your dish with a thin, cotton tea towel (I’ve used a large pastry cloth). Drain the soaked wheat and spread it evenly in the bottom of your dish.
Fold the cloth edges over the wheat. Soak the cloth completely by pouring fresh water all over it. Put your hand over the folded cloth, to prevent the wheat from shifting, and drain all the water from the dish; do this 2-3 times a day for 2 days. Keep the dish over the counter and away from the sun.
(Day 4) – Fuzzy white roots and white germinations are visible. Wait one more day so the roots interlock in the bottom while the sprouts continue growing upwards. Continue keeping it moist as described above.
(Day 5) – Unfold the cloth, cover the top of your dish with a larger flat tray or plate, and invert the sprouted wheat with the cloth. Remove the cloth; the fuzzy roots will be on top.
Place your dish on top of the plate and invert the wheat back into the dish.
Make a paper towel wet under running water. Place it over the sprouted wheat and tuck in the corners and completely cover the top. Store over the counter, away from the sun. Keep the paper towel very moist by spraying it as often as needed, to keep it from drying out.
(Day 6) – The sprouts have a light greenish color now.
(Day 7) – Remove the paper towel and move the dish by a window with indirect sunlight. Keep the sprouted wheat moist by spraying it several times a day. The roots should be moist but not sitting in the water; drain any excess water that accumulates from spraying. Turn the dish couple of times so all sides get the same amount of sun.
(Day 8) – The Sabzeh is about 2 inches tall. Keep spraying it regularly.
(Day 9) – Sabzeh Nowruz is the right height for Sofreh Haftseen (tahvil é sal) on the 9th or 10th day. You don’t want it too tall at this point, because remember, you will be keeping it for 13 more days, until Sizdeh Bedar. After the first day of Nowruz, spray the sabzeh once a day to keep the growth to a minimum.
I hope you will have a beautiful green sabzeh this year! I wish all of you a fantastic start to a Persian New Year that will bring you health, love, joy, and laughter! Please join me in a prayer for world peace and triumph of love over hate. Nowruz Mobarak!