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Iranian Food

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Thousands of years of co-existence between diverse ethnicities and different climatic zones across the country, has resulted in a rich food heritage in Iranian culture.

Of course, some of the dishes have been introduced to Iranian cuisine by other nations and cultures, but all of them have been modified to please the Iranian taste. For that reason, you may find some of them totally different compare to their original form.

Rice and bread are staple food in Iranian cuisine.

Topics

Main Meal culture

Iranian cuisine has a wide variety of dishes some of which might seem strange to foreigners. The main Iranian dishes are meat kebabs and stews served with rice or bread.

Iranians like to pour their thick stews on rice and eat with some special side dishes which can vary from yogurt or processed olives to Torshi (pickled vegetables prepared by keeping them in vinegar for months or even years) and salted caviar. Iranian stews and kebabs are some of the oldest dishes in the country and have very unique taste. We highly recommend you to taste them during your trip.

Iranian meat kebabs came from the Caucasus hundreds of years ago. In the course of time though Iranians have changed some of the ingredients and cooking methods thus creating a different version. Earlier kebabs were served only with bread but nowadays many people eat them with rice. Iranian kebabs are mostly made of lamb meat mixed with a little beef and served with vegetables, fresh onions and roasted tomatoes. You can even find fish kebab in Iran which is not very different from the ones served in other countries.

Rice itself is often cooked with many different vegetables and meat making other popular Iranian dishes.

We will discuss some famous Iranian dishes in more detail in the Main meals page

Bakery

Bakeries are separated into 4 types in Iran: traditional bread bakeries, foreign bread bakeries (called Fantasy Bread), modern pastry shops and traditional pastry shops.

Iranians have had their own types of bread and pastries for many years but several years ago foreigners, especially Iranian Armenians brought some other kinds of bread and sweets to Iran. In the course of time foreign pastries have changed to please the Iranian palate and nowadays many of them are even more popular than some traditional Iranian pastries.

Traditional Iranian sweets can be found everywhere, especially in the cities where they were originally made. As for bread, there are many foreign bakeries but traditional Iranian breads cover most of the bread consumption.

Drinks and side dishes

Iranians have their own beverages which are mostly soft drinks. After the Islamic revolution alcoholic beverages were ootlawed, so nowadays soft drinks are the only option in Iran.

Iranians produce many types of juices from aromatic plants like rose, goat willow, mint, orange blossom etc. These juices together with some other special ingredients and sweets will be discussed in detail in the page Famous Persian drinks.

Side dishes play an important role in Iranian cuisine, especially for people in Caspian sea coastal provinces who often have more side dishes than main meals on their tables. Famous side dishes in Iran are yogurt (plain or processed), many kinds of Torshi (pickled fruits and vegetables), processed olive (with pomegranate, walnut etc.), Borani ( made with spinach) etc.

Rice

Nowadays rice is even more common than bread served with Iranian main dishes. Iranian rice comes from the Caspian Sea coastal area where the climate is most favorable for its cultivation.

Iranian rice is sensational in taste and smell but it’s more expensive than the rice imported from India or Pakistan. So nowadays in cheap restaurants or in daily life Iranians prefer imported rice, but during gatherings or parties or in good restaurants, Iranian rice is served with saffron which gives the rice better color and aroma.

Stews

Stews play an important role in the Iranian cuisine. They are among the most famous Iranian dishes, mostly eaten with rice and sometimes with bread. As a rule they are cheaper than other dishes in the restaurants. Most stews are made with vegetables and meat.

You should pour stews on top of the rice and enjoy it with some special side dishes.

We will tell about each stew in the Main course page.

Sweets

Iranians have many types of sweets and pastries. Each city has its own traditional ones, many of them with saffron and pistachios. Yazd is the biggest producer of sweets in size and quantity. Make sure to buy each sweet and pastry in its hometown for the best quality.

Health Care

Although nowadays most restaurants are being checked daily or weekly by Iran’s National Health Organization, you should still avoid unknown restaurants and ask the local people for advice or see our restaurants page in your destination. This way you will relish delicious food without risking spending the rest of your holiday in hospital.

Health

A wide variety of ingredients are used in the Iranian cuisine. Some dishes are high in cholesterol, others are cooked for hours losing the nutritious qualities of the ingredients, but some of them are very healthy. We will tell you about health benefits of each dish while speaking about them separately.