fixed tour search

box tour search
.
Yahoo Massenger
Free travel advice +98-21-88796949 Online Support
yahoo-box
.

Food and Drink

Food and Drink

Take a look at Iran’s place on the map and it’s easy to understand why the scope of native foods is so wide. Once the center of the Persian Empire, Iran neighbors the former Soviet Union countries, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab states and Turkey. Although Iran is part of the Middle East, it has close ties to Europe, the Far East and Africa, owing to its central place on the Silk Road trade route.
What’s more, the ancient warrior-king of Greece, Alexander the Great, conquered the Persian Empire back in the 4th century, and later it was invaded by Arabs, Turks, Mongols and Uzbeks. While Iranians already had a well-developed food identity before these invasions, they assimilated what the outsiders brought in. Think Russian-style borscht with cumin and cilantro and Chinese noodles in a soup of beans, herbs and sour fermented whey.
Many coveted ingredients are native to Iran, including pistachios, almonds, walnuts, saffron, mint, oranges, pomegranates and grapes. Iran has a variable climate with four distinct seasons, and unlike other parts of the Middle East, where the dry terrain limited what food could be grown, the ancient Persians transformed vast stretches of arid land into fertile oases via underground aquifers that drew melted snow water into the desert. A bright, sensuous, fruit-and-herb filled cuisine was born.
A core curriculum of classic Persian favorites can be found on most Persian-American restaurant menus. Here are 10 to try. Noosh-e jan! (Yes, that's Farsi for "good appetite.")
Traditionally, rice was most prevalent as a major staple item in the rice growing region of northern Iran, and the homes of the wealthy, while in the rest of the country bread was the dominant staple. The varieties of rice most valued in Persian cuisine are prized for their aroma, and grow in the north of Iran. There are three primary methods of cooking rice in Iran:
Rice cooking methods     
Polo        
Rice is prepared by soaking in salted water then boiling it. The parboiled rice (called chelo) is drained and returned to the pot to be steamed. This method results in an exceptionally fluffy rice with the rice grains separated and not sticky. A golden rice crust is created at the bottom of the pot called Tah-deeg (literally "bottom of the pot"). Tah-deeg is served plain, with thin breads such as lavash or slices of potato. Meat, vegetables, nuts and fruits are sometimes added in layers or completely mixed with the chelo and then steamed, such as Baghali Polo, Lubia Polo, Zereshk Polo and Sabzi Polo.
When chelo is in the pot the heat is reduced and a piece of thick cloth or towel is place on top of the pot to absorb excess steam. Chelo is plain rice served as an accompaniment to a stew or kebab (chelo khoresh badenjan, chelo kabab), while Polo is rice mixed with something (such as Baghali Polo, Zereshk polo, Loubia Polo). They are otherwise cooked in the same way.
Kateh
Rice that is cooked until the water is absorbed completely. This is also the traditional dish of Gilan Province.
Damy
Cooked almost the same as Kateh but at the start ingredients that can be cooked thoroughly with the rice are added such as grains and beans such as lentil in "Adass Polo". In making Kateh the heat is reduced to minimum when the rice and other ingredients are almost cooked. If kept long enough on the stove without burning and over-cooking Damy and Kateh can also produce Tah-deeg. Damy literally means "steaming".
A special form of Damy is Tah-chin, that is a mixture of yogurt, lamb (or chicken) and rice plus saffron and egg yolks. However, chicken Tah-chin is more common than lamb Tah-chin.
Famous Persian Foods
1. Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew)
This iconic stew, an essential part of every Persian wedding menu, pairs tart pomegranate with chicken or duck. Ground walnuts, pomegranate paste and onions are slowly simmered to make a thick sauce. Sometimes saffron and cinnamon are added, and maybe a pinch of sugar to balance the acid. Fesenjan has a long pedigree. At the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient ritual capital of the Persian Empire, archaeologists found inscribed stone tablets from as far back as 515 B.C., which listed pantry staples of the early Iranians. They included walnuts, poultry and pomegranate preserves, the key ingredients in fesenjan.
2. Bademjan (Eggplant And Tomato Stew)                  
This stew has the shimmering red-gold color of tomatoes cooked with turmeric, with a sheen of oil on top, a prized characteristic in Persian cooking that shows a stew has been cooked long enough for the oils to rise up. Slightly tart, with the tang of tomatoes, lemon juice, and sometimes the juice of unripe grapes, its tanginess is kept in check by the eggplant, which is first fried on its own until golden-brown, then cooked with onions, lamb and the tomatoes and seasoning. Like all Persian stews, bademjan is thick and meant to be eaten over rice with a fork.
3. Baghali Polo (Rice With Dill And Fava Beans)
In Iranian cooking, rice can be prepared simply with butter and saffron, known as chelo. But just as often, it’s cooked with other ingredients and called polo. Polo can be made with herbs, vegetables, beans, nuts, dried fruit, meat and even noodles, and acts as the centerpiece of the meal. This polo is particularly good in the spring, when fava beans are young and tender and dill is in season. The dish is flecked with green dill and favas, and is often cooked with very tender chunks of lamb. Alternately, it may be served alongside lamb on the bone. The rice should have a mild saffron flavor, with the saffron mixed into the rice just before serving.
4. Zereshk Polo (Barberry Rice)
Iranians love sour flavors. Like cranberries, barberries have a vibrant red color, but they’re even sourer. This classic rice dish is studded with the red berries, which are dried and then rehydrated before cooking. The rice is cooked with plenty of butter, which helps to soften the intensity of the berries. Quince, rhubarb, green plums, sour oranges, lemons, limes, dried limes, sour cherries, tamarind, sumac and pomegranate are all used in Persian cooking to make food tarter.
5. Gormeh Sabzi (Green Herb Stew)
Made from herbs, kidney beans and lamb, deep green Gormeh Sabzi satisfies two Persian flavor obsessions: it’s sour and full of herbs. The stew is seasoned with dried limes, limoo Omani in Farsi. These limes are extra intense and sour, with a bittersweet taste that gives the stew a unique flavor. The other constant in Gormeh Sabzi is fenugreek leaves, a taste unfamiliar to most westerners. Other herbs include parsley, coriander and scallions.
6. Ash e Reshteh (Noodle and Bean Soup)
A richly textured soup full of noodles, beans, herbs and leafy greens like spinach and beet leaves. It's topped with mint oil, crunchy fried onions and sour kashk, a fermented whey product eaten in the Middle East that tastes akin to sour yogurt. The noodles, which made their way to Iran from China, are thought to represent the many paths of life, and this soup is traditionally served when someone sets off on a long journey. Because of its auspicious ingredients, it’s also part of the menu for Norooz, the Persian New Year, which occurs at the spring equinox in March.
7. Tahdig (Crunchy Fried Rice)
Tahdig is the soul food of Persian cooking. It’s the crisp, golden layer of fried rice at the bottom of the rice pot, and it tastes like a combination of popcorn and potato chips, but with the delicate flavor of basmati ice. (Tahdig is usually not printed on the menu, so you may have to ask for it.) At Iranian family gatherings, there are always plenty of leftovers, but the one dish that disappears completely is Tahdig. It’s eaten as a side dish, and it’s forgivable to pick it up and eat it with your fingers.
Breads
Breads are another typical feature of the Iranian diet. One of the most famous types of bread that Iranians consume is called Lavash. This bread is thin and it is long. It comes in two varieties. You can either purchase the Lavash which has white flour or the whole wheat variety. The whole wheat Lavash is healthier because it has fiber which is known to prevent constipation. Iranians also eat another kind of bread known as Sangak. This kind of bread is also thin but it has sesame seeds on top of it. This bread tastes better if you toast it. When you toast this bread it is so good you can’t even imagine that. It has a crunchy flavor that will leave you wanting more of it. You can add feta cheese to this bread or you can add butter to it for an even better taste. The choice is yours.
Iranians also eat another popular kind of bread called Barbari Bread. This type of bread also has sesame seeds on it but it is thicker and has more of an oval shape to it.
Fruits and vegetables
Salad Shirazi
Iran's agriculture produces many fruits and vegetables, including what some other countries may consider “exotic”. A bowl of fresh fruit is common on most Persian tables and dishes of vegetables and herbs are standard sides to most meals. Iran is one of the top date producers in the world; some special date cultivars, such as Rotab, are grown in Iran.
For generations, Iranians have been eating fruits, vegetables, and herbs for health benefits that have recently been discovered in other parts of the world. For example, onions and garlic, pomegranate, and sabzijat (various green herbs) are regular ingredients in many Persian dishes.
While the eggplant (aborigine) is "the potato of Iran", Iranians are fond of fresh green salads dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a little garlic. Vegetables such as pumpkin, spinach, green beans, broad beans, courgettes, varieties of squashes and carrots are commonly used in rice and meat dishes.
Tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions often accompany a meal. A small sweet variety of cucumber is popularly served as a fruit.
Dolmeh describes any vegetable or fruit stuffed with rice or a rice-and meat mixture. The term dolmeh describes any vegetable or fruit stuffed with rice or a rice-and meat mixture: grape vine leaves, cabbage leaves, spinach, eggplant, sweet peppers, tomatoes, even apples and quince.
The most popular dolmeh in Iran today are stuffed grape leaves, which are prepared by lightly parboiling the fresh leaves in salted water, then stuffing them with a mixture of ground meat, rice, chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, split peas, and seasoning.
The above are only a few examples of the combination of meats and vegetables, or meats and fruits plus seasonings that may go into chelo khoresh, a favorite Iranian dish that is served at least once daily. This is a dish of crusty baked rice topped by one of the stews listed, or any one of dozens more, limited only by price and availability of ingredients.  
Drinks and Desserts
Iranian traditional ice-cream: frozen clotted cream sandwiched between two thin crispy waffles.
Traditional Iranian ice cream often contains flakes of frozen clotted cream and is most commonly naturally flavored with saffron and rose water.
It is usually served sandwiched between two thin crispy waffles. The traditional drink accompanying Iranian dishes is Doogh, a combination of yogurt, still or carbonated water, salt, and dried mint. Other drinks include sherbets known as Sharbat and Khak shir. One favorite is Aab-e Havij, alternately called havij bastani, carrot juice made into an ice cream float and garnished with cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices.
Aab Anaar (pomegranate juice) is also popular. Sekanjebin is a thick syrup made from vinegar, mint and sugar, served mixed with carbonated or plain water. It can be drunk mixed with a little rosewater or used as a dip for Romaine lettuce.
Other popular sweets include ZulbiaBamieh and Gush-e FilBamieh is an oval-shaped piece of sweet dough, deep-fried, and then covered with a syrup traditionally made with honey. Zulbia is made of the same sort of batter, also deep-fried, but poured into the oil in swirls, then covered with the same syrup (or with honey). Goosh-e Fil (lit. elephant's ear) is also made of deep-fried dough, in the shape of a flat elephant's ear, and then covered with powdered sugar.
Popular sweets Zulbia, Bamieh.
One of the classics, Halvardeh (halvā-arde, from halvā, an Arabic loan word meaning 'sweet', plus Ardeh). Halvā comes in various qualities and varieties, from mainly sugar to sesame seed paste (the aforementioned Persianarde), and pistachios. Noghl, sugar-coated almonds, are often served at Iranian weddings.
Essential accompaniments
There are certain accompaniments (mokhalafat) which are essential to every Iranian lunch (nahar) and dinner (shaam), regardless of the region. These include a plate of fresh herbs, called sabzi khordan (basil, cilantro, fenugreek, green onion, mint, radish (black, red, white), savory (marzeh, origany or sweet fennel), tarragon, Persian watercress or (shaahi), a variety of flat breads, called naan or noon (sangaklavashbarbari), fresh white cheese (panir, somewhat similar to feta), walnut, sliced and peeled cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and onions, yogurt, and lemon juice. Persian gherkins (khiyarshur) and mixed pickles (Torshi) are also considered essential in most regions.
Iranian tea (chai)
Tea (chai) is served at breakfast. It may be served at other times, based on the region, usually many times throughout the day. For example, in the province of Khorasan it is served immediately before and after lunch and dinner. The traditional methods of tea preparation and drinking differ between regions and peoples.  


“ Food and Drink ”