On the thrilling yet nausea-inducing journey of pregnancy, my stay in Persia at six weeks’ pregnant proved to be an unexpected blessing, all thanks to one of H’s numerous khallehs (aunties).
You see, wrestling with morning sickness, I found solace in her secret recipe – sabzi khordan, a delightful mix of fresh herbs that turned out to be exactly what my growing belly craved.
Kebabs, Chips And Garlic Sauce
Now being a proud Geordie girl with a love for kebabs, chips and garlic sauce, freshly washed greens and nuts were not usually the first thing I reached for, and that surprised even H’s auntie. But, I admit incorporating mint, tarragon, and walnuts into my diet has been a game-changer.
All Things Green And Herby
Now, for those unacquainted with the term sabzi khordan, let me break it down for you: ‘sabz’ means green, ‘sabzi’ translates to herbs or vegetables, and ‘khordan’ simply means eating. So, basically, it’s the art of devouring all things green and herby.
You see, consuming the right foods is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. And in Persian tradition, sabzi khordan is also a strategic move in promoting fertility. The herbs play a vital role in nourishing the body and the female reproductive system, creating the perfect environment for conception.
My daily sabzi khordan ritual typically involves a colourful array of herbs – tarragon (‘tarkhoon’), mint (‘naana’), radish (‘torob-cheh’), basil (‘rayhan’), chives (‘tareh’), scallion (‘piaz-cheh’), and coriander (‘geshniz’).
The Magic Of Mint
So, when morning sickness hit me like a tidal wave, my cravings took an unexpected turn towards mint. Whether it was in the form of peppermint tea, fresh mint leaves in salads, or even the occasional mint chocolate chip ice cream, mint seemed to soothe my queasy stomach.
Tarragon, on the other hand, might not be the first herb that comes to mind for relief in pregnancy, but trust me, it deserves a spot on your plate. Known for its mild anise-like flavour, tarragon aids in digestion. I found myself experimenting with tarragon-infused recipes, from chicken salads to roasted vegetables, and each dish seemed to settle well, providing relief from morning sickness.
A Satisfying Crunch
Walnuts, meanwhile, with their omega-3 fatty acids and rich nutrients, became my go-to snack when I needed a break from constant nausea. They offered a satisfying crunch but also contributed to the overall well-being of my baby. Sprinkling them over yoghurt, tossing them into salads, or just enjoying a handful as a snack became a regular part of my routine.
Limp Bunches of Coriander
Now, residing in Newcastle poses its challenges. It’s known more for its kebabs than its green goodness! Instead of finding an array of aromatic herbs to complement global cuisines, I would usually discover a meager display in our supermarkets, featuring a limp bunch of coriander or parsley on the shelf. The disappointment wasn’t just in the limited variety, but also in the quantity provided.
A few sparse stems hardly constitutes enough for a family meal, leaving those who enjoy experimenting with flavours from around the world searching for alternatives. It became a mission for the missing herbs, to source the essential ingredients that could bring authenticity to our home-cooked meals.
Any way, here’s a quick recipe to satiate your cravings, if you can find the ingredients!
Sabzi Khordan Recipe:
- 1 bunch of whole fresh herbs: spearmint, basil, coriander, tarragon, and chives
- 1 bunch of scallions, roots removed
- 1 cup of walnuts
- 6 radishes, trimmed
- Lavash or other flatbread
- Wash and dry the herbs. Trim the stems but leave them intact.
- Place the herbs in a large bowl along with the radishes.
- Serve with walnuts and lavash or your favorite flatbread.
Pro tip: Sabzi khordan pairs splendidly with Persian kotlet.
So, in the name of a healthy pregnancy, I invite you to join me in celebrating the wonders of sabzi khordan. Because when life hands you morning sickness, throw it a bunch of herbs and walnuts – the Persian way! Until next time, khodaa haafez! (goodbye)