The first thoughts of Iranian cuisine may conjure up images of layers of succulent kebab and heaps of fluffy rice. While this is a firm favourite for a typical Iranian meal, there is a whole host of other food options to try, which you may never have heard of.
Breakfasts in Iran usually consist of bread, jams, cheese and dates with a glass of chai, tea. On other occasions you may find yourself indulging into a bowl of halim. Its thick porridge-like consistency is made of wheat and meat, often lamb. It is usually served with sugar, melted butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. Slow-cooked, it’s an incredibly indulgent and filling meal and so offers the perfect start to the day if you’re planning on a long day of exploring.
Ash-e reshteh is always a fine choice. A heart-warming, nourishing soup filled with thick noodles, kashk, a form of whey, piles of white beans, scatterings of fried onions and bunches of fragrant herbs such as dill. It’s a wonderfully filling soup and stands as a firmly popular choice for celebrations, such as Nowruz, Persian New Year. It’s perfect for any winter spent in chilly Iran – a true comfort indeed.
Iranians love picnics. Anywhere and everywhere you can find locals throwing down a rug, bringing out a samovar filled with tea and emptying piles of plastic boxes to create a tasty shareable spread. Everyone tucks into bits and bobs and everything is passed around. It’s very common to find kuku sabzi as part of the feast. It’s similar to a frittata and packed full of aromatic herbs such as parsley and coriander creating a gorgeous dark green colour to it. It is traditionally fried, cut into squares and can often be found with barberries in the middle, providing a sharp burst with every mouthful.
The thought of noodles for dessert may not sound the most appealing, but faloodeh may very well change your mind. Made of semi-frozen vermicelli noodles doused in a rosewater syrup with lashings of lime juice and occasionally soured cherry syrup too, faloodeh is a popular choice for locals. Found in ice cream shops and cafes, you can find car loads of locals pulling up and enjoying this interesting combination all over Iran, not just Shiraz where the dessert originates. The mix of sour blended with delicate flavours with a zesty touch provide nothing short of a tantalising end to your meal.
Iranians pride themselves on knowing the health benefits of certain foods. They know which herb and spice will help with blood pressure, hair loss and make your skin glow. This also applies to drinks. A refreshing drink for a scorching summer day in Iran is a cool glass of sharbat. There are various types of sharbat, with sharbat-e khaskshi being a popular choice. It is made up of small red and brown seeds called herb Sophia which are packed full of calcium, fibre and protein and are used to help detox the liver. Made with sugar, ice cubes and an optional addition of lime juice and rosewater, it’s a simple but hugely beneficial herbal medicine.