As you can expect, a multicultural country like Iran has a wonderful food diversity which comes as the result of different geographical and ethnic characteristics found in different regions of the country. One of the main highlights of your travel to Iran will most definitely be the cuisine. And we bet you don’t want to leave Iran before trying some of the best examples of traditional foods of its many towns. This is a guide for travelers who want to try the most famous mouthwatering Iranian foods.
The Most Celebratory Iranian Cuisine
Unless you are a vegetarian, you’ll regret leaving Iran before eating several types of Kababs. Kabab is a name to refer to pieces of meat or chicken – that have different names due to their shapes – cooked on charcoal. Kabab Koobideh, Kabab Barg and Shishlik are some of the most popular Iranian Kababs. Joojeh Kabab is the type made with chicken and is a good choice for people who do not opt for red meat. If you want to have your Kabab the way Iranians do, have it with grilled tomatoes, yogurt and fresh herb. Kabab is the main cuisine on any Iranian celebration dinner table. You’ll never see an Iranian wedding dinner table that does not include Kababs! However, you can easily order it in any typical restaurant that serves Iranian foods. But if you are into classy restaurants, Alborz, Shandiz and Nayeb can be perfect choices for you in Tehran.
The Most Favorite Stew Among Iranian Foods
Stews make for the most favored home-made dishes in Iran. And Ghormeh-Sabzi in undeniably the most popular one of them. The word Ghormeh-Sabzi means Vegetable Stew in Farsi since this delicious food is made from coriander, parsley and fenugreek. Red beans are an integral element of this stew and some people like to add dried lemons to it for a mild sour taste. Eat Ghormeh-Sabzi with rice and a small bowl of yogurt if you want to do it like locals!
Although Ghormeh-Sabzi is originally made with pieces of meat, if you’re a vegetarian you can simply ask any Iranian host to escape the meat while cooking it for you. Click here to read our Guide for Vegetarians Traveling to Iran.
Fesenjoon, a Stew with Pomegranates and Walnuts
Fesenjoon or Fesenjan is one of the most popular stews of Iran that is also regarded as a formal meal for celebrations. Toasted walnuts and pomegranate juice give it a thick texture while the sweet and sour taste of the pomegranate makes it a distinctive stew and one of the must-eats of Iranian foods. Fesenjoon can include chicken thighs or small meatballs and its taste is just excellent either way.
Zereshk Polo, the Queen of Iranian Foods
One of the most remarkable examples of Iranian foods, Zereshk Polo (Barberry Rice) is a kind of rice that is tastefully cooked and decorated with dried red barberries. Some people prefer to add toasted pistachios and almonds to it too for a more lavish look. As saffron plays an important role in decorating and preparing Iranian foods, Zereshk Polo is usually decorated with saffron to get a more eye-catching color.
Click here for more on Saffron in Iranian Kitchens.
As you can expect, this dish of golden and red colored rice shines on any Iranian table like a piece of jewelry. Zereshk Polo is typically served with chicken but you can enjoy it without the chicken if you are a vegetarian.
Eat Dizi to Savor Persian Traditions!
Dizi – also known as Abgoosht – is one of the most traditional Iranian foods and is usually served in restaurants that are aimed to indulge their customers with authentic traditions of Iran. These types of restaurants feature traditional beds covered by Persian rugs that you may need to take off your shoes before sitting on them. Made from veal, chickpeas and potatoes slowly cooked in a clay pot for hours, Dizi is an exquisite cuisine to enjoy while listening to live Persian music in a traditional restaurant. It’s also a good choice for those who prefer foods that don’t include rice.
When eating Dizi, you will learn how to “Tilit” a bread which means splitting it into pieces and dipping it in the juice of the meat. It’s a cool experience that you must try as a traveler in Iran!
Ash-e-Reshteh, the Persian Noodle Pottage
A flavorful Persian pottage made from noodles, chickpeas, kidney peas, mint, cilantro and lentils, Ash-e-Reshteh is one of the most celebrated and popular traditional Iranian foods. If you’re a vegetarian, we bet Ash-e-Reshteh will become your favorite Iranian cuisine! It’s a meat-less thick noodle soup full of Persian greens and is a perfect choice for cold winter nights. Although you can order it at any Iranian restaurant, Ash-e-Reshteh is also a good choice for those who want to try Iranian street food. You can find it at street food kiosks on Si-e-Tir Street or in Darband which are two of the most popular tourist attractions of Tehran.
Interestingly, Ash-e-Reshteh is also regarded as a festive food since it’s usually served in family gatherings a few days before the Persian New Year – Nowruz – and the ancient Yalda celebration.
Ash-Reshteh is always served with a few spoons of Kashk which is a creamy yoghurt whey with a tangy flavor. It’s very delicious but you can ask for a bowl of Ash-e-Reshteh without Kashk if you’re not a fan of sour foods.
Tahdig, the Ultimate Persian Side Dish
Don’t miss out on this crispy layer of crust that is fried at the bottom of the rice pot. In fact, the word “Tahdig” means the bottom of the pot and it makes for one of the most favorite Persian side dishes of all times! There are different kinds of Tahdig but the most popular types are made with potatoes or a flat Lavash bread. Another kind of Tahdig which is very famous is the one made with rice, yoghurt and saffron. No matter which kind of it you choose to try, you must know that Tahdig is the ultimate element that completes any Persian feast!
Book a Tour to Learn about Iranian Foods!
If you are a foodie who enjoys eating local foods of different countries and loves to explore the relish of other cultures, book a food tour and learn about the unlimited world of Iranian foods. Contact us at Land of Turquoise Domes for any further information.