Once the heart of the Persian Empire, Iran has constantly assimilated the cuisines of outside invaders, from the Greeks to the Arabs, Turks, Mongols, and finally the Uzbeks. Iran is also home to many wonderful ingredients, including pistachios, almonds, walnuts, saffron, mint, oranges, pomegranates, and grapes, all of which enrich the delicious Iranian foods. Anyone who has traveled to Iran will talk in length about Iranian food, its taste, smell, and freshness.
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A Little More About Iranian Food
What to eat in Iran, what is the food culture of Iran, what is the famous food of Iran, the list of questions is endless. An attempt to answer all questions regarding Iranian cuisine is right here.
Iranian food, also popularly known as Persian Cuisine, is one of the world’s finest. Food from Iran has a great influence not just on the Persian ethnic group but also on Mediterranean Middle East and South Asia. It is also an amalgamation of Azerbaijani and Kurdish cuisine. The vast geography of Iran, its different climates, and the many nationalities passing through this country have brought about great diversity in Iranian food.
Persian dishes are often a combination of rice or bread with meat, salad, beans, nuts, fruits, cheese, and yogurt. Because of the use of herbs, spices, and flowers, Iranian dishes are aromatic and have vibrant colors. From lamb stews to crispy samosas, smoked fish to Kebabs, there is a wide range of delicious delights here. Here’s a snapshot of the common meals for the day:
Breakfast – A traditional Iranian breakfast can be a combination of flatbreads smeared with butter, cheese, sarshir, jams, and spreads. They have a great start to the day with a cup of aromatic Persian tea.
Lunch – Typical Iranian lunch consists of a balanced mix of meat, beans, vegetables, herbs, dairy, nuts, and fruits. They are always served with rice or bread. Stew over rice is by far the most popular among them and the constitution of these vary from region to region.
Dinner – Iranian dinners are pretty much the same as their lunch. It is a mix of fruits, vegetables, and poultry which are commonly had with rice or bread.
Best Iranian Food That You Got To Try
Surprise your stomach with our pick of the top traditional Iranian foods which are sumptuous and healthy at the same time.
Zereshk Polo – Iranian Barberries And Saffron Chicken
Zereshk polo, a meal served on special occasions like weddings and other major celebrations, is one of the most delicious Iranian foods. Zereshk Polo is prepared with barberry, saffron, and white rice and is often served with Chicken or Saffron yogurt lamb. The Persian word for Barberries is Zereshk, hence the name Zereshk polo. The vibrant colors from the golden saffron rice grains and the red color of the barberries make this a feast not just for the taste buds but also for the eyes. Iranians love sour flavors, the sweet and sour combination of his dish makes it a hit among all.
Khoresht-e Fesenjan – Pomegranate Walnut Stew
This iconic Persian stew that has won everyone’s hearts is a must on every Persian wedding menu. Ground walnuts, poultry, onions, and pomegranate are slowly simmered until it becomes a thick dark sauce. The dark thick sauce may not be appetizing to the eyes but the combination of walnuts and the sweet and sour pomegranate molasses is a treat to the taste buds. Originating from the north of Iran, this dish is traditionally made with duck or fish but nowadays, it is more common with chicken. The secret behind the great taste of the stew is simmering just right to allow the flavors to develop into a thick and creamy sauce.
Tahchin Morgh – Iranian Rice Cake
Tahchin is a cake-like dish made of rice, yogurt, saffron, egg, and chicken filets. The word “Tahchin” means “arranged at the bottom” and “Morgh” means “chicken“, so the concept is to layer this dish with Tachin and Morgh. Tahchin is made in two parts: the thin Tahdig part (chicken filets, saffron, and other ingredients) at the base of the cooking pot and the second part which is layered with flavored white rice. It can also be cooked without meat to make a vegetable version of this dish. The very elegant and attractive appearance of this dish makes it one of the most delicious and beautiful foods from Iran.
Joojeh Kebabs – Chicken Skewers With Lemon And Saffron
Joojeh kababs also known as Persian kababs are chicken grilled on charcoal. Pieces of chicken are added to a mixture of grated onion, lemon, salt, and saffron. The more time you marinate it the more delicious it gets. Marinated chicken pieces are grilled to perfection with charcoal or fire. The unique taste of the Persian Chicken Kebabs comes from the grill and the rich flavors of lemon. Finally, the Joojeh kababs are served with grilled tomatoes, saffron rice, and butter, which is a deadly combination. It is a tradition for Iranians to make this Iranian food recipe wherever they go, be it picnic, camping, or any celebration.
Ashe Reshteh – Iranian Noodle Soup
‘Ash’ means soup in Farsi and ‘Reshteh’ which is the noodles, is a spiced soup usually prepared during the winter. This delicious soup is made with vegetables, chickpeas, beans, noodles, and plenty of herbs. Fried onion, fried garlic, fried mint, and Kashk are the main ingredients used for topping to enhance its flavors. This hearty thick soup is cooked in different ways in different cities. Ashe Reshteh is known as the simplest dish not just because it is easy to prepare but also for its simple use of ingredients. This is a great Iranian food that you will fall in love with instantly!
Khoresht-e Gheimeh – Traditional Persian Stew
Khoresh Gheimeh, also known as polo Gheymeh is a traditional Persian stew that is a very popular Iranian food. The process of cutting the meat into small pieces is called Gheimeh. Minced meat (lamb/beef ) with onions, split peas, tomato paste, dried lemon, spices, and water are cooked together to form a thick soup. There are two versions of this soup, one with fried potatoes which is called Gheimeh Sibzamini, and the other with fried eggplant which is called Gheimeh Bademjan. It is usually served with French fries on top accompanied by yellow rice mixed with white rice.
Abgoosht – Meat And Bean Broth
Abgoosht also known as Dizi is an ancient meat and bean broth dish which is cooked in small individual stone pots. All the ingredients like chickpeas, beans, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes are cooked slowly in a clay pot with Lamb meat in water. Once cooked the watery part is transferred into another bowl. The leftover cooked lamb and vegetables are mashed using a stone to eat them separately. It goes well with bread, onion, butter, yogurt, and fresh greens on the side. In the 16th century it used to be a meal for laborers and the working class, however, today it is a top food in Iran that is served in many restaurants.
Baghali Polo – Persian Rice with Fava Beans And Dill
Another famous dish from the top of Iran’s food list is the Baghali Polo, also called Sabzi Polo. It is a classic rice dish that is generally cooked on special occasions like weddings, parties, and festivals. It is made with basmati rice, saffron, fava beans, and green dill, and is usually served with lamb or chicken. Here the cooked rice is layered with dill in a pan and then baked in an oven until ready. Baghali Polo with meat is one of the most expensive meals that you can see on the menu of luxury restaurants. The most popular rice dish in the country is generally enjoyed by the locals during springtime.
Ghormeh Sabzi – Meat And Fresh Herbs Stew
Another favorite Iranian food, the Ghormeh sabzi is sometimes referred to as the national dish of Iran. The secret of this stew is the five kinds of herbs that go into it along with a lot of aromatic vegetables, onion, Omani lemon, red beans, and sheep, veal, or lamb meat. Like the other Iranian food dishes, this too is cooked on low heat for a long duration to bring out the best of all the ingredients. This is a meal served with rice on official occasions as well as a family meal. It is definitely one of the popular and healthy cuisines that are loved by locals and tourists alike.
Dolmeh Barge Mo – Stuffed Grape Leaves
Dolmeh barge mo are Persian appetizers that are generally made during the spring. The term ‘dolmeh’ actually means something stuffed, rather than specifically grape leaves. During spring when the leaves are fresh and sour, it is stuffed with rice, yellow split peas, herbs, and meat. There are many types of dolma but the ones filled with grape leaves are the most classic of them all. The ones stuffed with tomato, eggplant, bell pepper, or cabbage are also pretty common. It was the local dish of the West and East Azerbaijan provinces but today this versatile appetizer is cooked all over Iran.
Persian Halim – Wheat And Meat Porridge
Halim is a traditional Iranian meal that is in great demand during the fasting months. It is extremely nutritious and a good source of energy, hence keeping them going throughout the day. Halim is made with wheat and meat (red meat, preferably lamb or turkey) by cooking it for several hours until it turns into the consistency of porridge. There are different ways of cooking this dish but the most common way to prepare Halim is the traditional way. Ingredients such as milk, cream, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, and salt are mixed to make it delicious. It is also served as breakfast during winter to keep warm throughout the day.
Kotlet – Spicy Meat And Potato Croquettes
The spicy meat and potato croquettes are a dish served during the festive season. Minced meat is mixed with potatoes, onions, eggs, flour, and spices and then shaped into semi-flat circles. These semi-flat circles are fried and served with bread, vegetables, tomato, pickled cucumber, French fries, and sauce. Apart from red meat, fish, chicken, and soya can be used to make the kotlet. This dish can be had either as an appetizer or as a main meal.
Suggested Reads: What Does The Future Hold For Iran Tourism?
Now that you are ready to indulge in some mouth-watering Iranian food, dive into the rich, flavorful world of Iranian cuisine and share your experience in the comment section below. Book now to take your taste buds on a culinary journey like never before.
The rice used to cook depends on the food type and the occasion. There are different types of rice in Iran such as Gerde, Domsiah, Champa, Doodi, Lenjan, and Tarom but the most commonly used rice is the white Basmati rice.
Iran is famous for its rich culture, architecture, literature, and unbeatable cuisine. Ancient Iranians were great thinkers who wrote influential texts on philosophy and medicine. Algebra, a branch of mathematics, was also invented by an Iranian.
Indian cuisine uses a lot of chili powder and masalas, however, Persian food is subtle with a balance between sweet and sour. The use of fresh herbs and spices is on the higher side compared to Indian food.
Every Iranian meal consists of rice, herbs, cheese, a variety of flatbreads, and meat like poultry, beef, lamb, or fish. Different types of stew with rice are by far the most popular dish among them all.
Different types of stew over rice, Ghormeh sabzi, and Kebabs are the 3 popular dishes in Iran.
Almost all of the Persian food is loaded with veggies and herbs that are very good for your health. However, excessive intake of white rice can be substituted with healthier brown Basmati rice or wild rice blends.