Essential Iranian Dishes
Travelling to Iran is travelling to the heart of human society, and while the impressive monuments and ruins illustrate the history of our development, there are other ways of enjoying that legacy while on your trip. One of the finest is through the wonderful food that Iranians enjoy, with dishes that have stood the test of time just as impressively as Persepolis, and are equally a part of Persian culture that you must experience.
Some are well known, the familiar Kebab, whether beef, lamb, chicken or lover, all deliver a delicious meal, while being recognizable enough to most to be an easy gateway into Iranian cuisine even for the nervous eater. Seasoned beautifully and served with rice, kebab is often accentuated with lemon juice, delivering a wonderfully aromatic meal that is, in every sense, a real taste of Iran.
However, being more adventurous can lead you on a culinary journey that few, if any, other countries could surpass, and it is this variety, a reflection of the varied history of the region, that makes Iranian food so special.
Take Fesenjan, a wonderfully evocative meal that is a feature of every Iranian wedding. It is a form of Pomegranate and Walnut stew, and often features either chicken or duck, offering a vivid contrast of flavors and textures. This is a dish that can trace its origins back as far as Persepolis itself, where stone tablets detailing the ingredients have been found. No trip to Iran is complete without sampling this amazing dish, its as close to a history lesson for the taste buds as you can find!
Another incredibly popular local dish is Jeweled Rice, a sweet and savory dish that blends perfectly steamed rice with colorful fruit and nuts, including raisins, barberries, almonds, carrots and pomegranates, topped off with yellow, saffron-soaked rice for that added touch of color and flavor.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from jeweled rice, is Tahdig, another rice dish, but when the name can be translated as ‘bottom of the pot’, perhaps shows just how different it is nevertheless. Persian rice is first boiled and then steamed, and after cooking, you are left with a crisp, golden layer of rice at the bottom of the pot. Its like a cross between rice, potato chips and popcorn, with a crunchy texture and amazing taste. A wonderful side dish, this is a firm favorite at family gatherings, although you won’t normally find it on restaurant menus, but if you ask for it, most will happily provide some for you, and you will not be disappointed.
There are, of course, many more exquisite dishes to discover, and like a trip through the ancient ruins, exploring the wonderful cuisine found in Iran is like a trip through Persian culture itself. It is a journey of discovery, where new ideas emerge from history to change the way you think about your food. You will be enjoying Persian cuisine long after you have left Iran, and every bite will remind you of that amazing vacation.
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