When traveling through Iran, you’ll undoubtedly come across Persian cuisine. Dating back centuries, the culinary tradition of the Persians is big on flavor, color, and spice. The cuisine is all about generosity, which means you’ll never feel unsatisfied after eating a Persian meal.
Some of the herbs and spices used in Persian cooking might be a little exotic by Western standards. But once you’re used to them, it’s hard not to become totally addicted.
Keep reading to find out what we think are the top 10 addictive dishes of Persian cuisine!
Rice is a staple in Persian cuisine. In this dish, zereshk polo morgh, rice happens to be the star. As The Culture Trip rightly points out, it also happens to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing Persian dishes out there! You almost don’t want to eat it because it’s so pretty.
The rice is flavored (and beautified) with barberries, fava beans, green dill, and saffron. It is topped with a stew made from chicken and tomatoes. Most of the time, this popular dish is served with lamb.
Another rice dish that’s definitely worth writing home about is Tahdig. Otherwise known as crunchy fried rice, this dish is unlike anything you’ve ever eaten before and consists of the hard, crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pot.
Food Republic describes it as tasting like a combination of popcorn and potato chips with a hint of basmati rice, but those flavors mixed with the texture makes for a totally new experience! Apparently, it’s okay to pick this one up and eat it with your fingers.
Another staple element in Persian cuisine is legumes. Abgoosht makes use of legumes as it’s a popular meat and bean broth that locals adore. The meat in question tends to be lamb, while the legumes are usually chickpeas and white beans. The tomato base of the dish is what gives it a deep red color.
Like many of the dishes in Persian cuisine, Abgoosht can be traced back centuries. Sometimes, this dish is known as dizi because it is served in a stone dish of the same name.
We bet you’ve never tasted an omelet like this before! If you’re a fan of your eggs and your herbs, then you have to try the herbed omelet known as kuku sabzi while traveling through Iran. You won’t regret it!
A serious amount of herbs go into the omelet, including cilantro, parsley, scallions, and dill. It’s also comprised of spring onion, turmeric, and dried fenugreek. According to Zagat, this dish is commonly served on Persian New Year, but it is also enjoyed all year round as an everyday food.
Here’s another stew that you should try while in Iran. Best eaten over rice with a fork, bademjan is thick and hearty and will definitely leave you satisfied. Although it’s a great stew to have in winter, lots of people have cravings for it throughout the entire year.
The protein in the stew is usually lamb, which features in many Persian dishes. Again, the rich red color comes from tomatoes flavored with turmeric. Because of the lemon juice, there can be a sour taste but it’s usually counteracted with the addition of eggplants.
If there’s one ingredient that a Persian can’t cook without, it’s yogurt. Known in Farsi as mast, Persian yogurt is distinct to those from other cultures. Compared to Greek yogurt, it’s thinner and silkier. Compared to the yogurt found in the United States, it’s thicker and heavier. By all standards, it’s super creamy and delicious.
Yogurt is not only used in Iran to make complete dishes but is also an ingredient that goes into common condiments that are used in Persian cooking. Most of the time, these sauces are used as accompaniments for meat dishes.
Everybody’s heard of kebabs. A lot of Middle Eastern and Balkan countries have their own version of kebabs, but Iran just might be the master of this meat dish. In Persian cuisine, there is more than one type of kebab to try.
The most popular is known as koobideh, which is very simply made with ground meat, onion, and seasoning. Then you have kabab-e barg, which is lamb or beef that is thinly sliced and cooked with flavors like lemon juice, butter, onion, and saffron. Also be sure to try chicken kebab, called joojeh, and jigar, which is lamb liver kebab.
Every culture needs a version of vegetable soup to help ward off the cold during winter. In Persian cooking, this is known as ash-e reshteh, and is one of the most beloved soups in the country. SBS explains that this dish is often served to welcome Persian New Year.
In Persian tradition, noodles are considered to be lucky and bring good fortune. Therefore, it’s traditionally eaten to welcome the New Year to guarantee good fortune for the year ahead. Ash-e reshteh is also a good dish to eat when you’re sick since it’s packed with nutrient-rich vegetables.
Another Persian stew, Khoresht-e Fesenjan is one of the most iconic dishes in the country. If you’re traveling to Iran, you have to try this at least once. The main ingredient is duck, although you can also find the dish with chicken or lamb. Surf Iran explains that it is sometimes even made with fish in the north of the country.
Cooked slowly, this stew is creamy and features a flavor that is equal parts sweet, sour, and nutty. It is traditionally served at Persian weddings.
Now for something sweet! There are a lot of delicious desserts to come out of the Middle East, and this is one of them. One of the most adored sweet treats in Persian cooking is sohan asali, or caramels made with honey, almond, and saffron. Originating from the Isfahan region of Iran, these caramels are addictively sweet and flavorsome.
When homemade, a number of aromatic ingredients can be used to enhance the flavor, such as orange blossom and clover. Sohan asali is another treat that features heavily on the traditional Persian New Year table.