Iranian or Persian Cuisine
Includes the foods, cooking methods and food traditions of Iranians.
Typical Iranian main dishes are combinations of rice with meat (such as lamb, chicken and beef), vegetables (such as onions and various herbs) and nuts. Fresh green herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranate, quince, prunes, apricots and raisins. Characteristic of Iranian flavourings such as saffron, dried lime, cinnamon and parsley are mixed and used in some special dishes.
Chelow and Polow
Chelow is plain rice served as an accompaniment to a stew or kebab, while polow is rice mixed with something. They are, however, cooked in the same way. Rice is prepared by soaking in salted water and then boiling it. The parboiled rice (called chelow) is drained and returned to the pot to be steamed. This method results in an exceptionally fluffy rice with the rice grains separated and not sticky. A golden rice crust, called Tadig, is created at the bottom of the pot. Tadig is served plain, with thin bread or slices of potato. Meat, vegetables, nuts and fruits are sometimes added in layers or completely mixed with the chelow and then steamed. When chelow is in the pot, the heat is reduced and a piece of thick cloth or towel is place on top of the pot to absorb excess steam.
Chelow kabab or Chelo kabab is the national dish of Iran. The meal is simple, consisting of steamed, saffron rice and kabab, of which there are several distinct Persian varieties. This dish is served throughout Iran today, but was traditionally associated with the northern part of the country.
Chelow kabab is served with the basic Iranian meal accompaniments, in addition to grilled tomatoes on the side of the rice, and butter on top of the rice. Somagh (powdered sumac) can be sprinkled on the rice. It is an old north-western tradition (probably originating in Tabriz) that a raw egg yolk be placed on top of the rice, though this is optional and no longer common. In fact, unless specifically requested, most restaurants will not serve the rice this way due to safety concerns surrounding the consumption of raw eggs.
There are certain accompaniments that are essential to every Iranian lunch and dinner regardless of the region. These include a plate of fresh herbs, called sabzi khordan (basil, cilantro, coriander, fenugreek, spring onion, mint, radish, savory (marzeh, origami), tarragon and Iranian watercress (shahi); as well as a variety of flat breads called nan or noon (sangak, lavash, barbari), fresh white feta cheese (panir), walnuts, sliced or peeled cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and onions, yogurt, lemon juice. Persian gherkins (khiyarshur) and mixed pickles (Torshi) are also considered essential in most regions.
A perfect Chelo-Kebab
Doogh: Cold yogurt drink
Doogh is a popular complement to Chelow Kabab as a drink.
Made by mixing yogurt and chilled or iced water and has been variously described as "diluted yogurt".
Salt (and sometimes pepper) is added, and dried mint or oregano is often mixed in as well.
Carbonated version of Doogh is extremely popular too.
Abgoosht literally means "meat juice" and is an Iranian stew. It is also called Dizi which refers to the traditional stone crocks it is served in. Ābgoosht is usually made with lamb, chickpeas, white beans, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, turmeric and dried lime. The ingredients are combined together and cooked until done, at which point the dish is strained. The solids are then mashed as Gusht Kubideh, literally "mashed meat" and served with the broth, but in a separatedish, along with flatbread.
Tea is always served at breakfast. It may be served at other times, based on the region, usually many times throughout the day. For example, in the province of Khorasan, it is served immediately before and after lunch and dinner. The traditional methods of tea preparation and drinking differ between regions and peoples.
Breads of Iran
The bakers get busy panning out fresh flat breads. Bread, hot out of the ovens, goes straight to the waiting customers on their way home for lunch.
As the aroma of fresh bread permeates the streets, it is fascinating for visitors to watch the bread making process in the traditional middle-eastern way.
The word bread in Farsi is Naan.
Flat breads are eaten every day all over Iran.
Second only to rice is the production and use of wheat. The following table lists several forms of flatbread and pastry-bread commonly used in Iranian cuisine.
Lavash: Thin, flaky, and round or oval. It is one of the most common bread in Iran.
Sangak: Plain, rectangular, or triangle-shaped leavened flatbread that is stone-baked.
Taftun: Thin, soft and round-shaped leavened flatbread that is thicker than lavash.
Barbari: Thick and oval flatbread very popular.
Each bakery specialises in one type of bread. Families buy one of the four main types of flat breads, made in small bakeries spread all over the town. Each household buys only the quantity they can eat for that day. ‘Daily bread’ makes sense in Iranian culture.
Made of wholemeal flour, Sangak is the most traditional and popular bread in Iran.
Its name consists of two parts: 'Sang' in Persian means stone or pebble and 'sangak' means little stone. The bread is baked on a bed of small river stones in an oven.
Taftan or taftoon
is a leavened flour bread baked in a clay oven. This bread is made with milk, yogurt and eggs. It is often flavoured with saffron and a small amount of cardamom powder and may be decorated with seeds such as poppy seeds.
is made with flour, water and salt. The thickness of the bread varies depending on how thin it was rolled out. Toasted sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds are sometimes sprinkled on before baking.
is the second common type of flat bread in Iran. It is a fluffy long bread, thick and delicious and made of white flour.
Barbari is one of the thickest flat breads.
Traditional Ice Cream (Akbar Mashdi)
Bastani Sonnati "traditional ice cream", is a Persian Ice Cream made from milk, eggs, sugar, rose water, saffron, vanilla and pistachios. Bastani often contains flakes of frozen clotted cream.
Akbar Mashti is a traditional Iranian ice cream. Akbar Mashti, who opened the first ice cream shop in Iran in 1950s, is also the inventor of the most preferred ice cream flavour combination for Persians. Today his son continues to sell what he modestly describes as ‘the most famous ice cream in Iran and the world’. Try the pistachio bastani and you’ll probably agree. One thing that makes Akbar Mashti stand out is the taste of Saffron.
Bastani-noony (ice cream sandwich) is a very popular way of eating ice cream in Iran.
Faloodeh or Paludeh is an Iranian traditional cold dessert consisting of vermicelli noodles made from corn starch or rice, mixed in a semi-frozen syrup made from sugar and rose water then finished with a touch of lemon or lime juice and sometimes ground pistachios. Paludeh is originally from Shiraz and it is also known as Shirazi Paludeh.
The name originally means smoothy (filtered) in Persian language. Paludeh is sold in ice cream stores, restaurants and coffee shops
Bastani Makhloot (combination)
Paloudeh is often served with saffron ice cream on the side, which is a perfect combination.