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Top Five Persian Food

Aside from a rich history and numerous monuments, traveling to Iran brings you a wide range of delicious food and introduces you to many new flavors. Besides familiar names such as kebab and falafel, many foods and delicacies from all over Iran such as caviar, pickles, smoked fish of the north, samosas, shrimp, soups, saffron and rose ice cream captivates thousands of visitors to the Persian kitchen every year.

Just take a look at the vast map and geography of Iran and you’ll see where this unique diversity comes from! The variety of climates in each part of Iran has created new flavors according to the vegetables and animals of that region. In addition, in the past travelers had to cross Iran to get to their destination because the great Silk Road went through parts of Iran, therefore, Persian food was also influenced by other cultures and finally a rich and unique food culture was created. In this article, PTS tries to introduce the top 5 most delicious and popular Persian dishes that have turned into a culture and identity for Persians. These are Kabab Koubideh (minced beef kebab), Qormeh Sabzi (meat, vegetables, and bean stew), Ash Reshteh (Noodle, beans, and peas soup), Fesenjun (chicken, walnut pomegranate stew), and Dizi (Beef, potatoes, and peas stew).

Kabab Koubideh; the Most Popular Kabab in Iran

Let’s start this list with the most popular and most ordered dish in Iranian restaurants, Kabab Koubideh. Koubideh is one of many different kinds of Kabab in Iran which thanks to its taste, texture, and reasonable price has turned into the most consumed kind of Kabab among Persians. Kabab Koubideh was first introduced to the Iranians by Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar. In the first years of his reign, Nasser al-Din Shah summoned some special chefs from the Caucasus to the court of Iran to prepare a delicious meal for him and the courtiers. After the new food was well-received by the king, the Iranian chefs decided to invent a similar food according to the taste of the king of Iran with some slight changes. Since then, Kabab Koubideh has become an inseparable part of the Persian kitchen.

The ingredients of this mouthwatering dish are mainly minced mutton, grated onions, and spices. After mixing the main ingredients, they will be put on a skewer and grilled over fire. The grilled meat is then served with rice and a combination of appetizing side dishes such as grilled tomatoes, raw vegetables, and torshi (pickled vegetables). Just give this exquisite dish a try on your next trip to Iran and we promise you will be looking for Persian restaurants in your neighborhood to bring back the taste and good memories of the travel of your lifetime.

Qormeh Sabzi; the National Food of Iran

Qormeh Sabzi is a symbol of Persian food and there are very few people who do not like this original Iranian dish with fresh vegetables. Persians like Qormeh Sabzi to the extent that they have named the first Saturday of their 9th month as ‘Qormeh Sabzi Day’! The word ‘Qormeh Sabzi’ consists of two parts: ‘Qormeh’ and ‘Sabzi’. ‘Qormeh’ refers to the way the nomads prepared their meat for thousands of years. To have access to meat throughout the year, they cooked their meat over a mild fire and stored it in special containers. The second part of the name of this delicious dish, Sabzi, refers to the vegetables that are used in preparing the broth. These aroma-giving vegetables include fenugreek, leeks, coriander, and parsley which along with red beans create an extraordinary taste.

It is customary to add dried lime or fresh lemon juice to the stew to give it a sour and a bit bitter taste because of the lime peel. To make Qormeh Sabzi, you must be patient as it can take up to 3 hours for it to be well-cooked. This delectable stew is usually served with rice, Shirazi salad, pickled vegetables (Torshi), and raw green vegetables.

Ash Reshteh; the Most Traditional Persian Food

One of the most famous and appetizing Iranian dishes is Ash. There are different types of Ash, the most famous of which is Ash Reshteh. Ash is originally a Persian food that later was sent to other parts of the world. This delicious food has many similarities to soup in the sense that Ash and soup are both broths and vegetables are used in their recipe. Regarding Ash, we must mention that this tasty food is considered by many to be an appetizer although a bowl of it can be considered as a complete meal.

Although some ingredients of Ash may differ in different parts of Iran, it mainly consists of beans, lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, barley, and sometimes even wheat. Usually, to make the soup tastier, these beans are pre-soaked and pre-cooked. Vegetables such as leeks, spinach, mint, and garlic together with long noodle strings made from wheat and water make the magic of Ash Reshteh happen. By this time you may have realized that the way the Persian food is served and decorated is as important as how it tastes. To this purpose after Ash Reshteh is cooked for hours, it is topped with fried onions, garlic, and mint, and Kashk to make the appearance of it even more appetizing.

Fesenjun; the Oldest Persian Food

Fesenjun is one of the most luxurious and delicious Persian foods that is considered to be the oldest as it dates back to the Sassanid era. Fesenjun is a traditional Gilaki food and is made in most parts of Iran. Fesenjun is normally cooked to celebrate the beginning of spring in March and the Nowruz ceremony.

This mouthwatering stew is prepared using ground walnuts, chicken, and pomegranate paste. Different cities of Iran make Fesenjun differently. For example, although the standard meat used to prepare this meal is chicken, in the north of Iran, and especially in the Gilak areas, other bird meats such as duck and goose are often used whereas in central parts of Iran red beef is more popular for this food. In addition, Fesenjun can be cooked either sweet with added sugar or even dates or sour with extra use of pomegranate paste. Like all the other Persian stews, Fesenjun is served together with rice and Torshi (pickled vegetables), raw green vegetables, and yogurt as a side dish.

Dizi (Abgusht); an Authentic Persian Food

Dizi or Abgusht is one of the oldest, most delicious, and nutritious authentic Persian dishes. As the name Abgusht implies, this food is in broth form (Ab) and meat (Gusht) is one of its main components. The ancients called it Dizi when it was cooked in a stone dish and in the fire. Normally eaten on Fridays, Dizi consists of fresh mutton with bones, peas, beans, and potatoes. The broth is served in a special style which makes this food even more interesting to the tourists. After the food is cooked for several hours, the broth is separated from the other ingredients. The rest of the ingredients are then crushed with a device called ‘Gushtkoob’ which means a meat grinder. The tasty Dizi is normally eaten with freshly baked Sangak bread, various types of pickles, raw onions and green vegetables, and local dough (Persian yogurt drink). Dough is a chilled, fizzy and savory yogurt based drink that is popular in Iran, and can easily be called the national drink. It is the quintessential accompaniment with Persian meals, and is made with yogurt, herbs and some water or sparkling mineral water. Often flavored with mint, it can also be made with other delightful flavors. It is served with lots of ice and is sometimes carbonated, and referred to as Persian coke or yogurt soda. This beverage is a bit similar to salty Indian lassi drink.

Tahdig; a Piece of (Persian) Heaven

It is not fair to finish this list without the mention of the charm of the Persian kitchen, Tahdig. Tahdig is generally the scorched rice, bread, or potato at the bottom of the rice pot. Now, don’t judge too fast because it is more delicious than it sounds! The history of Tahdig goes back hundreds of years ago. In the kitchen of court, after the king had his meal, the servants would eat the remaining food. In some narrations, it is said that during the rule of Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar, there were often fights between the servants over the bottom of the food pot. The story of fights and quarrels reached the head of servants and then the king. The curious king then ordered his servants to bring him some of what the servants were fighting over to try and he absolutely loved Tahdig. He then ordered that from then on, they would serve Tahdig as an appetizer for him.

We hope that we haven’t made you too much hungry with this post but we hope that we have awakened your inner desire and curiosity to taste new foods. This selection is, of course, a subjective choice of what we thought is the most popular and delicious food in Iran. But don’t let this stop you from giving thousands of other tasty Persian food a try. Bon appetite or Noushe Jan!