Iranian food

Persian cuisine is some of the most flavoursome food you will find in the world and is an important part of everyday life for Iranians.

Food is celebrated with family and friends throughout the year and on many special occasions.

Due to the different varieties of nature, culture and people that have inhabited Iran at some point, they have each contributed something to the many different and beautiful varieties of cuisine on offer you can see today.

Normally, when you think of Iranian food you may think of the many types of kebabs or meat stews, but there are just as many amazing vegetarian dishes for you to try. You can even ask when eating out to have the stews meat-free as normally they are cooked separately (however please ask before ordering). Iranians tend to use herbs to flavour their food, so you will notice it won't be as hot as some Asian dishes.

Let's start with some of the most common meat dishes:

1) Ghorme Sabzi - known as the national dish of Iran, this stew comprises of meat, vegetable, kidney beans, turmeric and dried lime served with plain rice.

2) Kebabs - There are a wide range of kebabs such as:
Koobideh Kebab - which consists of ground lamb or beef mixed with onion and spice.
Joojeh Kebab - chunks of grilled chicken coated in yoghurt, saffron and onion.
Barg Kebab - barbecued tenderised lamb.
Bakhtiari Kebab - a mix of grilled chicken and lamb or beef on a skewer.
Chenje Kebab - skewered grilled meat.
Shashlik - grilled lamb cops on skewers.

3) Fesenjan - a stew comprising normally of chicken (lamb or beef can be used), pomegranate paste and walnuts served with plain rice. It's a very rich and luxurious dish.

4) Gheimeh - a stew with mutton or lamb, split peas, tomatoes, onion and dried lime. This is garnished with very thin french fries and served with plain rice (although it can be eaten with sweet saffron rice which is called Shekar Polo).

5) Dizi - mutton stew with chickpeas, beans, potatoes, tomato, onion turmeric and dried lime. This is slow cooked and mashed down and served with bread and salad.

6) Khoresht e Bademjan - fried aubergine, onion, tomato, turmeric and meat served with plain rice.

7) Zereshk Polo -and Murgh - boiled chicken in tomato sauce with onion and turmeric served with Saffron rice with barberries (Zereshk).

8) Baghali Polo Ba Mahiche - cooked leg of lamb with cinnamon, turmeric, saffron and onion served with dill rice and broadbeans.

9) Tachin - rice cake comprising of yoghurt, egg and chicken fillets.

10) Salad Olivieh - it's known internationally as (Russian Salad) comprising of mash potato, boiled egg, chicken or salami with mayonnaise, green peas and sour pickled cucumber. In some parts of Iran, they add raw mushroom and carrot with a splash of vinegar.

11) Morasa polow - Rice with saffron, barberries, raisins, carrots, orange peel, and almonds.

Vegetarian Dishes

1) Ash-e-Reshte - this is a thick soup (ash) comprising of thin noodles (reshte) and kashk (a fermented dairy product). There is also Ash-e-doogh (buttermilk thick soup) and ash-e-anar (A thick pomegranate thick soup).

2) Dampokhtak -rice, herbs and vegetables including onion, carrot, lentils and beans. A common dish in Iran but varies in flavour depending on the area you are in.

3) Mirzhaghasemi - smoked aubergine, onion, tomato, turmeric, garlic and egg and served with yoghurt.

4) Kashke Bademjan - one of the most common vegetarian dishes known as national Iranian food. It is fried aubergine, onion, garlic, mint, walnut (sometimes), turmeric and kashke (fermented dairy product).

5) Adasi - it's a lentil soup which can be cooked using split peas or brown lentils and is flavoured with onion, turmeric, garlic, tomato and sometimes potato.

6) Kuku - there are different types of Kuku found in Iran but the two most common are Kuku Sabzi (which is a mixture of vegetable and herbs like lettuce, onion, spinach, parsley, egg and herbs) and Kuku Sibzamini (is fried mashed potato, egg, turmeric and onion).

7) Dolme - stuffed vine leaves (can be with egg plant or pepper) this is stuffed with rice and herbs (it can be cooked with mince-meat too).

Desserts

1) Sholezard - a rice-based dish with saffron, sugar, cardamom and rose water.

2) Halva - wheat flour and butter, flavoured with rose water.

3) Tar Halva- rice flour, milk, flavoured with rose water and saffron.

4) Ranginak- date, walnut, pistachio, coconut, white flour and butter or vegetable oil.

5) Faloodeh - vermicelli noodles mixed with a semi frozen syrup and rose water.(The best quality is from Shiraz)

6) Bastani- it's an Iranian ice cream made from milk, eggs, sugar, rose water, saffron, vanilla, and pistachios.

7) Baghlava - layers of filo pastry with syrups and chopped nuts.