October 09, 2014

Ash-e Haft Daneh - Persian Seven Bean Hearty Soup - Mehregan Festival Recipe

Mehregan/Mehr is an ancient Iranian festival celebrating the start of the beautiful fall season. With its vibrant foliage, crisp days, and harvesting of crops, مهرگان (Mehregan) is traditionally celebrated a few days after the first day of fall (Autumnal Equinox) on the 10th day of  (Mehr) (the seventh month of the Iranian calendar). In the past, festivities would last for several days. Opinions about the exact date of Mehregan may differ since the historical records show that the date has been changed a few times throughout history. The wordمهر "Mehr" in Mehregan means 'sun, kindness, love and friendship' in Persian. جشن مهرگان Jashn-e Mehregan is attributed to Mithra/Mehr, the goddess of the sun and brightness and also the angelic divinity of friendship, justice and oath dating back to the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism. One of the most valuable lessons of prophet Zartosht (Zoroaster), that is still cherished today, is his teachings of good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

It's also believed that Mehregan marks the triumph of Kaveh Ahangar, the blacksmith who fought the tyrant king Zahak and defeated him, saving the people from his brutal reign which resulted in the crowning of Fereydun as king in the epic Shahnameh (Book of Kings), written by the great Persian poet Ferdowsi. Therefore, Mehregan is also considered a day when good destroys evil, a common thread in many old Iranian fables.

Growing up, my family celebrated Nowruz (Persian New Year) and Yalda (the longest night) every year more grand than the year before. However, I don't have any recollection of any Mehregan celebrations. I can't think of a particular reason why we didn't celebrate Mehregan at home other than perhaps the timing of it being inconvenient for my parents. The first day of fall is the first day of school in Iran. My guess is that for my parents having to deal with a bunch of kids and getting each of us ready for school must have been overwhelming enough around that time of year! And so when the dust was settled Mehregan had come and went. Now, more than ever, I'm passionate about paying a long overdue ode to this centuries-old Iranian festival for the purpose of introducing it to my children as well as others and preserving it for future generations. Plus, we can always use a little more mehr, light and good cheer in our lives. This festival also serves as a necessary reminder that similar to how the struggles and efforts of Kaveh Ahangar came to fruition beautifully, we too can overcome our personal challenges and obstacles.

Food is an integral part of most celebrations and Mehregan is no exception. On this date, fresh fruits such as grapes, pomegranate, apples, quince, figs and persimmon were served along with an assortment of nuts, dried fruits, sweets and rosewater. In my research for a Mehregan main dish I came across the  آش هفت غله - Ash-e Haft Daneh (seven bean soup) in a few written records of a typical mehregan feast. And in my quest for preserving traditions I decided to recreate this recipe which was perhaps once served on our ancestral sofreh (spread).

I chose to call it a seven bean soup but this is more than just a soup and it's more than just beans.
آش هفت دانه - Ash-e haft daneh is a combination of beans, seeds, whole wheat and some vegetables. The main ingredients in the original recipe were listed as wheat, barley, rice, chickpeas, lentils, mung beans and millet. There are many different variations of this traditional ash (stew/soup). You can make this soup with lamb shank or lamb/beef stock and add vegetables such as parsley, cilantro, chives/leeks, spinach and dill. However, since this is a hearty and flavor-packed soup I didn't think adding any kind of meat was necessary. Also, it is not loaded with vegetables like ash-e reshteh and it does not have noodles either. I replaced millet and mung beans with two other kinds of beans and used tomatoes for added flavor.

Ash-e Haft Daneh

Serves 8

1/2 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup pinto beans
1/2 cup white beans
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup bulgur
1/3 cup rice
2 large tomatoes, grated
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch chives or scallions/leeks, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
Juice of a lemon

For Topping:

Piaz Dagh:
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Liquid kashk (whey) or yogurt


  1. Place the chickpeas, pinto beans, white beans and barley in a large bowl, rinse, add a quart of water, soak for six hours.
  2. Drain and place in a large pot.
  3. Rinse the rice, lentils and bulgur and add to the pot.
  4. Add water to cover by at least two inches, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cook for one hour over medium-low heat.
  5. Add the grated tomatoes with their juices to the pot. 
  6. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, saute for 20 minutes until golden, add the garlic and turmeric and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the dried mint, saute for an additional minute or two. 
  7. Add parsley, chives and 1/2 of the sauteed onions to the pot. Add salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another 45-50 minutes on low heat or until the beans are all very tender. Add lemon juice toward the end of cooking. Add more water if needed and adjust the seasoning.
Ladle ash into a serving bowl and top with kashk and fried onion. Serve hot with warm bread and yogurt.

A group of Iranian food bloggers have prepared delicious recipes to celebrate the ancient Persian Festival of Mehregan. Please check out the following links:

Mehregan 2014 Round Up:

Ahu Eats: Badoom Sookhte Torsh
All Kinds of Yum: Jeweled Carrot Salad
Bottom of the Pot: Broccoli Koo Koo
Cafe Leilee: Northern Iranian Pomegranate Garlic and Chicken Stew
Coco in the Kitchen: Zeytoon Parvardeh
Della Cucina Povera: Ghormeh Sabzi
Family Spice: Khoreshteh Kadoo | Butternut Squash Stew
Fig & Quince: Festive Persian Noodle Rice & Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Yummies 
for Mehregan
Honest and Tasty: Loobia Polo | Beef and Green Bean Rice
Lab Noon: Adas Polo Risotto
Lucid Food: Sambuseh
Marjan Kamali: Persian Ice Cream with Rosewater and Saffron
My Caldron: Anaar-Daneh Mosamma | Pomegranate Stew
My Persian Kitchen: Keshmesh Polow | Persian Raisin Rice
Noghlemey: Parsi Dal Rice Pie
Parisa's Kitchen: Morasa Polow | Jeweled Rice
Sabzi: Ash-e Mast, Yogurt Soup with Meatballs
The saffron Tales: Khoresht-e Gheimeh
Simi's Kitchen: Lita Turshisi | Torshi-e Liteh | Tangy aubergine pickle
Spice Spoon: Khoresht-e-bademjaan
The Unmanly Chef: Baghali Polow ba Mahicheh 
ZoZoBaking: Masghati

روز مهر  و ماه مهر و جشن فرخ مهرگان 
مهر بفزا ای نگارماه چهر مهربان 
مهربانی کن به جشن مهرگان و روز مهر
مهربانی کن به روز مهر و جشن مهرگان  
مسعود سعد سلمان ~

Happy Mehr & Happy Mehregan!


  1. This looks so good, ash is one of my all time favorites. Every weekend when we would go to my maman joons house she would have a HUGE pot of Ash waiting for us kids.

  2. Bah bah, this looks delectable, Azita jan. I love your photographs.

  3. Even though we are all writing about mehregan, I am still learning something new from everyone's posts!!! Being a half-breed (ha ha!) living in the US, I love learning what I can about my culture. Your soup looks amazing, as all of your recipes do. xxooxx

  4. Beautifully done and beautifully said.

  5. Azita joon, as someone who has tried many of your recipes so far, I can't wait to try this new recipe. I'm sure it'll be as delicious as all the rest. Much love and happy Mehregan

  6. Çok ilginc bir bayram, daha önce hiç duymadım. Merakla okudum, teşekkür ederim. Benim ismim Mehriban, bu ismin fars ismi olduğunu biliyorum. Acaba menası ne ? Mehriban ve Mehregan ayni mena taşıyor mu ?

  7. Azita joon, like always beautiful and delicious ....especially that is vegetarian ;)

  8. Azita joon, I've never had this ash. It looks so hearty, perfect for a chilly night.
    I can't wait to taste it! xo

  9. This must be one of the most appealing bean dishes I have sighted this year - thank you! It looks easy to make and looking down the list of ingredients I actually have all in my kitchen! Hope you do not mind if I share when I get around to it :) !

  10. I can swear I left you a comment too this morning; Must have failed/missed the robot test LOL. Thanks so much for this wonderful and rich post. Your ash looks marvelous!

  11. Dear Azita, this looks delectable and right up my alley! I too am trying my best to introduce my little ones to all of these wonderful traditions and celebrations that we have. Can't wait to make this aash. I use millet quite a bit so I'm gonna add that to it too - will let you know how it turns out!

  12. Azita joon - what a wonderful dish, story and photos. Like any Iranian dish, they are always more than the sum of their parts, no? The time, love and energy that goes into them transforms them into something ... magical.

    I am a bean fanatic (ask the salad guy across from my office building. I'm 'kidney bean and chickpea girl'), and I will definitely be making this. As always you are an amazing source of wonderful cultural information and beautiful food. Merci Azita jan! xoxo

  13. I heard about this recipe while i was searching for Mehregan & i was hoping someone will post about the recipe. Love the photos with 7 beans, so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this. :)

  14. I love the combination of beans and grains here. Looks lovely, Azita!

  15. This is such a beautiful soup. Love the legumes and your spices, just perfect.

  16. Azita jan, I don't think I had heard of this soup before, but it looks delicious and one that I must make soon! xoxo

  17. I love soup! Especially as the weather gets cooler. This is a beautiful and wholesome recipe. Thank you for sharing, I can't wait to try it.

  18. As always your posts are informative and delicious looking. Thank you for sharing this seasonal recipe and your stories. Merci Azita Jan.

  19. Azita jan, it goes without saying that I love the choice of the recipe and its presentation but I also absolutely loved reading your account of Mehregan.

  20. Azita jan, I love everything about this post. Beautiful narrative and photos. What is to some a healthy comfort food, you have made into a masterpiece. Affarin! Happy Belated Mehregan! :) Fae.

  21. Thank you for the links to all the amazing cooking sites. What a wealth of wonderful knowledge and incredible recipes. Best to you.

  22. I am two years late but still glad i found this. Love beans, its snowing out, perfect for winter.