Iranian cuisine is the art of creating satisfying balanced tastes, using a wide range of contradictory flavours and ingredients! The musky scent of saffron, the floral flavour of rosewater, the sour taste of thick yoghurt and the aromatic smell of herbs are just some of the unique characteristics of the Iranian culinary culture.
While the Persian cuisine is so diverse in terms of using different ingredients including crops, meat, vegetables, poultry, legumes and other foodstuffs, it is mostly famous for its meat-based dishes and the savoury vegetarian side is less known to the world.
Here is a list of 10 Persian vegetarian dishes not to miss on your trip to Iran:
Literary means eggplant and kashk which is a type of thick and sour yoghurt. You can have it as a main course, a side dish or even a creamy thick dip! Kashk-e Badamjan is a flavoursome mixture of fried eggplants (Bademjan in Farsi) mashed together with kashk, ground walnuts, garlic and garnished with crispy caramelized onions and fried dried mint. It is perfectly served with flatbread.
This dish is the powerful rival of Kashk-e Bademjan as people usually find it hard to choose between the two. The main ingredient of Mirza Qasemi is eggplant as well, yet the rest of the components and the cooking process is different. Mirza Qasemi is a combination of grilled (smoked) eggplants, sautéed garlic and fried tomatoes all mixed together and spiced with a pinch of salt and pepper. It is mostly topped with fried eggs and could be served both with bread and rice.
The Persian vegetable frittataو locally called Kuku Sabzi. Kuku Sabzi is a super green dish made of a variety of finely chopped vegetables including; cilantro, parsley, dill and chives (some like to add green garlic leaves too) mixed with a handful of sour barberries and crushed walnuts to balance the sweet taste and soft texture of the vegetables. All the mentioned ingredients are stuck together with the help of one or two eggs, and finally spread in a pan and fried in oil (on both sides). This dish is usually served with flatbread and accompanied by pickles.
This simple yet delicious food comes from Guilan province in Northern Iran and is made of only two ingredients; green garlic (young garlic leaves) and eggs. The garlic leaves are chopped and sautéed in oil for a few minutes then mixed with the eggs and spiced with a pinch of salt and pepper. It is a perfect brunch dish, best served with bread.
A refreshing savoury summer dish. Ab Doogh Khiar is a kind of cold soup containing yoghurt, chopped cucumbers, both dried and fresh herbs such as mint, basil, tarragon and dill, raisins, crushed walnuts and dried rose petals as a garnish. All the ingredients are mixed together in a bowl along with few ice cubes and cups of water to dilute the mixture. This cold soup is usually served with pieces of dried flatbread.
Another tasty vegetarian food from Northern Iran. Baghala Ghatogh is famous Persian stew made of fava/lima beans, dill and eggs served with rice. The fresh fava beans are sautéed in butter along with a handful of dill and spices, then cooked entirely in a few cups of water and at the final stage 1-2 eggs are added to the simmering mixture till they are poached.
The king of all Persian rice dishes. Tah Chin is actually a kind of rice cake made from white rice, thick yoghurt, saffron and eggs that is usually stuffed with desirable vegetables like eggplants. The wet ingredients are mixed with the half-cooked rice and baked in a rather deep pot till a crispy golden crust forms around the outer layer of the rice. The cake is turned-over onto a platter and decorated with butter sautéed barberries and pistachio slices.
A famous brunch meal that is made with different recipes all over Iran, yet one of its most popular recipes comes from the city of Tabriz, in northwestern Iran. The main ingredients of Khagineh are eggs, yoghurt, walnuts, sugar and it is spiced with saffron, cardamom and cinnamon. The final result looks like an omelette and is served with bread.
This one is a sweet soft dessert from the city of Isfahan in central Iran. Fereni is a kind of Persian custard made of rice flour, corn starch, milk, cardamom and rose water. All the ingredients are mixed and cooked together till a creamy texture is obtained. This dessert is served both cold and hot and is usually sweetened with grape or date syrup.
As its name indicates, Halva is originally an Arabic dessert that has found its way to Iranian kitchens as well. It is usually prepared for funerals, during the holy month of Ramadan and is also a favourite weekend dessert. This popular sweet dish is a mixture of wheat flour, butter, cardamom, rose water and sugar syrup and is served with tea or coffee.
By Nazanin Moayeh