10 TOP IRANIAN DISH
A visit in Iran provides a great variety of culinary delights. Between the familiar kebab and decidedly an exception in China roast lamb testicles, there is a wide range of foods: caviar, fix, and smoked fish in the north; samosas, falafel and hot and sour shrimp in the south; noodles, bread and fragrant rosewater ice cream all over the country.
Take a look at Iran's location on the map and it is easy to understand why the scale of domestic consumption is so broad. When the middle of the Persian Empire, Iran neighbors, the former Soviet Union, 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, because of its central location on the Silk Road trade route.
What's more, the old warrior king of Greece, Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire back in the 4th century, and later was invaded by Arabs, Turks, Mongols and Uzbeks. While the Iranians already had a well-developed food identity before these invasions, assimilate what they outsider entering. Think Russian style borscht with cumin and coriander and Chinese noodles in a soup of beans, herbs and sour fermented whey.
Many sought-after ingredients are at home in 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 foods can be grown, the ancient Persians converted vast stretches of dry land into fertile oases through aquifers that drew melted snow water in the desert. A light, sensual, fruit and herb-filled food 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 “bon appétit.”)
1. Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew)
This iconic stew, an important part of every Persian wedding menu, few sour pomegranate with chicken or duck. Ground walnuts, pomegranate paste and onions slowly simmered to make a thick sauce. Sometimes saffron and cinnamon are added and perhaps a pinch of sugar to balance the acid. Fesenjan have a long pedigree. At the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient ritual of the capital of the Persian Empire, archeologists found the inscribed stone tablets from as far back as 515 BC, who noted pantry staples in the beginning of the Iranians. They included walnuts, pomegranate poultry and canned food, the main ingredients in Fesenjan.
2. Bademjan (Eggplant And Tomato Stew)
This stew is shimmering red-gold color tomatoes cooked with turmeric, with a sheen of oil on top, has an estimated capacity of Persian cooking that shows a stew cooked long enough for oil to rise. Slightly acidic, with aromas of tomatoes, lemon juice, and sometimes the juice of unripe grapes, its tanginess kept in check by the eggplant, which first fried on their own until they are golden brown, then cooked with onions, lamb and tomatoes and spices. Like all Persian stews, is bademjan thick and intended to be eaten over rice with a gaffe.
3. Baghali Polo (Rice With Dill And Fava Beans)
The Iranian cooking rice can be produced simply with butter and saffron, known as Chelo. But just as often, it is cooked with other ingredients and are called polo. Polo can be done with herbs, vegetables, beans, nuts, dried fruit, meat and even noodles, and acts as a central part of the meal. This polo is particularly good in the spring, when the beans are young and tender and dill are in season. The bowl is flecked with green dill and Fava, and often cooked with very tender pieces of lamb. Alternatively, it is served with the lamb on the bone. The rice should have a mild saffron flavor, mixed with saffron in the rice just before serving.
4. Zereshk Polo (Barberry Rice)
Iranians love sour flavors. Like cranberries, barberry has a vibrant red color, but they are even more acidic. This classic rice dish is studded with red berries, which are dried and then rehydrated before cooking. The rice is cooked with lots of butter, which helps to soften the intensity of the berries. Quince, rhubarb, green plums, sour oranges, lemons, limes, dried limes, sour, tamarind, sumac and pomegranate are all used in Persian cooking to make the food more cake.
5. Gormeh Sabzi (Green Herb Stew)
Made of herbs, beans and lamb, deep green gormeh Sabzi meets two Persian flavor obsessions: it is hard and full of herbs. The stew is seasoned with dried limes, limoo Omani Persian. These limes are particularly intense and hard, with a bittersweet taste that gives the pot a unique flavor. The other constant in gormeh Sabzi is Fenugreek leaves, a taste unfamiliar to most Westerners. Other herbs include parsley, cilantro and onions.
6. Ash e Reshteh (Noodle and Bean Soup)
A richly textured soup filled with noodles, beans, herbs and leafy vegetables such as spinach and beet leaves. It is topped with mint oil, crunchy fried onions and sour kashk, fermented whey product is eaten in the Middle East that tastes akin to sour yogurt. Noodles, who fled to Iran from China, is supposed to represent the many paths in life, and this soup is traditionally served when someone sets out on a long journey. Because of its beneficial ingredients, it is also part of the menu for Norooz, the Persian New Year, which takes place at the vernal equinox in March.
7. Tahdig (Crunchy Fried Rice)
Tahdig is the soul food of Persian cooking. It is crisp, golden layer of fried rice at the bottom of the rice pot, and it tastes like a combination of popcorn and chips, but with the delicate flavor of basmati ice. (Tahdig are usually not printed on the menu, so you may need to ask for it.) The Iranian family gatherings, there are always plenty of leftovers, but a dish that disappears entirely tahdig. It is eaten as a side dish, and it's forgivable to pick up and eat it with your fingers.
8. Jeweled Rice (Rice with Nuts and Dried Fruit)
Dotted with colorful dried fruit and nuts, like little jewels, this is a sweet-and-savory dish that showcases some of the indigenous ingredients in Iran, including pistachios, almonds, candied orange peel, barberry, carrots and saffron. It is cooked with a little sugar to balance the acidity of barberry. Jeweled rice served for special occasions, especially at weddings, because the sweet elements symbolize a sweet life. It is traditionally served with chicken, which contrasts nicely with the sweetness.
9. Kebab (Lamb, Chicken, Lamb Liver, Ground Meat)
Kebab has more variety than you might think. First, there koobideh, ground meat seasoned with chopped onion, salt and pepper. It sounds simple, but the taste is sublime. There are kebab-e Barg, thinly sliced lamb or beef, seasoned with lemon juice and onions and basted with saffron and butter. Chicken kebab, known as joojeh, traditionally made of a whole chicken, bones and all, for more flavor (even in American restaurants is often made of skinless chicken breast), marinated in lemon and onion, and basted with saffron and butter. If you are lucky, you will find Jigar, lamb kebab liver, garnished with fresh basil leaves and a wedge of lemon.
10. Sabzi Khordan (Herb and Cheese Plate)
In Persian No meal is complete without a dish of Sabzi khordan or edible herbs. The plate may contain mint, tarragon, basil and coriander, along with onions, radishes, walnuts, feta cheese and Iranian nan (bread). Simply tear off a piece of bread, stopping a piece of herbs and cheese and garnish inside, and fold it up as a rustic sandwich. The plate remained on the table throughout the meal, and herbs is a crunchy palate cleanser between bites of stew and rice. Fresh and dried green herbs eaten daily in Iran. The Zoroastrian New Year Norooz celebrates rebirth and renewal, and Norooz menu includes several dishes with green herbs representing new life, including rice with herbs, a herb omelette and herb plate.