As I complete the ‘About Me’ form for Cyrus’s nursery, it’s clear that his first year of life has been full of memorable experiences so far.
His first word ‘baba’ (daddy in farsi), first steps as he edged his way along our sofa, first grasp of my hand when he was born. Every little thing he does feels like a miracle to us as older parents because we’re more in tune with all those early developments.
However, the arrival of his first tooth has sparked something of a celebration in our household and across the miles. You see my husband’s family hail from the northern province of Gilan in Persia and they celebrate a baby’s first tooth during a ceremony called Gaz Furshon, meaning tooth celebration.
New parents invite family to their home where they cook wheat, kidney beans, lentils, and fava beans together and then discard water. They serve the food in a number of dishes and decorate them with noghl (small sugary sweets) and raisins.
Then, they spread a tablecloth and put the dishes and different kinds of sweets on it. They sit down the baby and put a Quran, pen, mirror, and some other objects in front of the baby and let him or her pick one. Selecting each of them means the baby will follow a specific career in the future. Roasted rice, lentils, and chickpeas are also poured on the head of the baby wishing for him or her to enjoy food for life.
Tooth celebration nationwide
The appearance of baby’s first tooth is celebrated in different parts of Persia under the name of ‘Jashn-e Dandooni’, which translated means ‘tooth celebration’.
During the event, family gets together with friends to cook a special kind of soup named ‘ash-e dandooni’ or first tooth soup. Ash is one of the healthiest Persian dishes as it contains herbs, grains, rice and vegetables. This means its full of protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and carbs.
It is made up of chickpeas, pinto beans, red kidney beans, white beans, lentils, barley, rice and wheat. The person making the soup decorates it with a face or a tooth using kashk (whey).
Now while some women crave dirt, chalk, concrete, coal and other not so healthy things during pregnancy, my craving at six weeks was as simple as hot, fresh ash-e reshte (Persian noodle soup)…which is pictured above and very similar to ‘ash-e dandooni’. To make it, please visit My Persian Kitchen. It’s my favourite site for all the best recipes.
Ash-e dandooni involves chickpeas, kidney beans, barley flakes, lentils or mung beans, rice and onions. It’s a vegan Persian dish, although you could add meat if you wanted to! It’s seasoned with a touch of salt and pepper.
I have included a basic recipe below, although I haven’t yet been able to confirm ingredients with my mum-in-law in order to make it ‘like she does’.
makes one pot
1 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup kidney bean (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup barley flakes
1/2 cup lentils (could use mung bean soaked overnight)
1/2 cup rice
1 chopped and fried onion
salt and pepper
In a large pot bring the chickpeas and kidney beans to a boil in about three cups of water, lower the heat and cover. Cook for about an hour and then add the barley flakes and lentils. Cook for about half an hour and add the rice and fried onion. Check and taste the soup as it cooks. Adding water, salt and pepper when and as needed. When everything is soft its ready. This should be a very thick soup so keep an eye on it after add the rice so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Add everything in at once with boiling water to cover and let cook.
Tooth celebrations across the globe
In Armenia, the tooth celebration is called ‘Agra Hadig’. Agra meaning tooth and Hadig refers to the traditional wheat dish made for the occasion. The baby is presented with five items and whichever one he/she picks up predicts his or her future occupation.
If the child picks up a book, he/she will be a scholar, teacher, or clergy person; money means he/she will become a banker, financier or wealthy person; a hammer means he/she will be in the building trades; a knife symbolizes a doctor and a scissors foretells a life as a seamstress or tailor.
Another tradition is called ‘tooth money’. It’s believed that early Christians would wait till the first tooth appeared to have the baptism after which the baby is gifted money.
There is also a tradition in Italy and Ireland that a teething child receives a gift of shoes. Why shoes? What’s that got to do with teeth? Well it signifies that the baby is thriving – a safe time to anticipate his/her first steps.
And there is a tradition dating back to ancient Scandinavians who tied the fang of a wolf around the baby’s neck on a leather necklace…but let’s not go there!