From the Shores of the Persian Gulf: A Taste of Southern Iranian Cuisine

Southern Iran, in addition to its unique attractions, has a distinct culinary culture that aptly showcases the hospitable spirit of its people. The dishes from this region are so delectable and amazing that one shouldn't miss the chance to savor them. Sometimes, people from other provinces seek to diversify their meal plans with dishes from different regions. Thus, wherever you are in Iran, you can prepare Southern dishes and be amazed by their aroma and taste.

What you will read in this article:

Fish Stew (Ghalieh Mahi)

Fish, a protein-rich and delicious food, is prevalent in the southern provinces due to their proximity to the Persian Gulf. Various dishes are prepared using Fish in south Iran, and one of them is Ghalieh Mahi, a traditional dish of Khuzestan. This stew is made with Fish, pomegranate paste, local herbs (fenugreek and cilantro), onions, pepper, salt, tamarind, oil, turmeric, and garlic. Like most Iranian stews, it’s usually served with a plate of rice. If you find yourself in the cities of Khuzestan, visit a local restaurant and order this traditional dish; you’ll surely admire its unparalleled taste.

Sobor Fish

Traditional dishes from Khuzestan are not only popular in Iran but also in countries around the Persian Gulf. Among these dishes, Fish holds a significant place. Southerners adore the taste of Sobor Fish and traditionally grill it over the fire. It’s either eaten with bread or served alongside herb rice. To enhance its flavor while grilling, they combine fish herbs, tamarind, tomato paste, black pepper, salt, garlic, and onions and spread it over the Fish’s belly. Given that this Fish isn’t usually fried and is grilled chiefly, it’s very healthy and nutritious.

Falafel

Falafel is one of the most popular foods not just in the South but all cities of Iran. The main ingredient is chickpeas, which doesn’t contain meat, making it a nutritious protein source for those who avoid meat. Although native to Khuzestan, it’s prepared in most cities of Iran today. Ingredients like chickpeas, oil, red pepper, egg, parsley, baking powder, etc. are used to prepare it.

Opiozi (A type of Ashkene)

Opiozi is essentially the Dezfuli variant of Ashkene. This dish is quickly prepared, and many families in the province cook it when it is short on time. They have a warm, nourishing, and tasty meal ready within minutes. To make Dezfuli Ashkene, ingredients like walnuts, sugar, turmeric, pomegranate paste, onion, eggs, salt, pepper, and dried bread are used.

Harvari

Havari is a type of rice dish native to Hormozgan. To make this dish, onions, dill, fenugreek, cilantro, garlic, and Fish are thoroughly fried. Afterward, rice is added to these ingredients and allowed to steam-cook.

Samosa (Sambuseh)

You might not know that the popular Samosa found in many cities of Iran was introduced in Khuzestan. Why do Khuzestanis love it so much? Because of its extra spiciness! To prepare this dish, thin lavash bread is filled with ingredients like meat, aromatic vegetables, potatoes, spices, etc., and then folded into a triangle shape.

Qeimeh Bushehri (Bushehr's Stew)

You might think by hearing the name “Qeimeh” that this dish is like other regular stews, but it’s not. Qeimeh Bushehri tastes sour and salty; its meat should be thoroughly mashed. The main ingredients of this dish are potatoes, tomato paste, split peas, onions, dried limes, saffron, cinnamon, and salt. It’s usually eaten with “Shakar Polo,” one of the most popular dishes in Bushehr.

Shakar Polo (Sugar Rice)

Shakar Polo is made in the southern cities of Iran, especially in Bushehr, and is a special dish served at parties alongside Qeimeh Bushehri. Shakar Polo combines saffron, sugar, and rice, and its yellow color gives an attractive look to the tables.

Nan Cham-Chamo (Cham-Chamo Bread)

Nan Cham-Chamo is a tasty local bread from Qeshm and is often seen on the breakfast table of locals. It is made with eggs, flour, oil, and sugar. It is also referred to as “egg bread.”

Balalit

Balalit is a delicious and popular breakfast in Bushehr and Bandar Abbas. This dish is prepared with pasta, date syrup, sugar, cardamom, rose water, and oil. Starting your day with it will energize you.

Grilled Fish

In the South, various types of Fish are used to prepare grilled Fish. The Fish is gutted and then stuffed with spices, aromatic herbs, and more.

Mahyaveh or Suragh

This dish is essentially a type of red sauce from the South. Its color is attributed to the region’s red soil, especially from Hormuz Island. Southern people prepare Mahyaveh, Suragh by drying a small Fish called Moto or Hashine, a sardine type. After drying, the Fish is powdered. After cleaning the fish powder, a little red soil (for its color and beneficial minerals), turmeric, pepper, cumin, coriander, and mustard are mixed and added to water. Salt and pepper season this sauce. It is placed in large jars and left in the sun for a month to evaporate the excess water. If there’s no jar, it’s poured into perforated clay pots. Sometimes, it’s stirred to enhance the sauce. In some regions, ground orange peel and smoked mustard (for the aroma) are added, slightly altering its taste. Southerners use the oil and water of this sauce on their tandoori bread, like “Mooshta” or “Timoshi.”

Dopiaza Shrimp (Shrimp with Double Onions)

Whenever there’s talk of a traditional southern dish, fish and shrimp are staple ingredients. Dopiaza Shrimp is a traditional dish from Qeshm. For its preparation, shrimp is cooked with onions, spices, and tomato paste. Aromatic spices are used in this dish, giving the shrimp a pleasant taste.

Crab Dish or Singo

People of the kind south prepare a very delicious crab dish and have various ways to cook it. One method involves heating the crabs in a pot on the stove. A little salt is added; they remove and separate the white meat after cooking. Remember that there’s also white meat inside the crab’s claws. They then season the meat a bit and fry it in oil. If you want to keep the crab shape intact and serve it that way, wrap a thread around it after removing its legs so it doesn’t get damaged during cooking. You can eat the crab dish with rice, similar to shrimp pilaf, or serve the crab dish separately. If you’re into seafood, we recommend you try Singo.

Shark Pudding

One of the Fish that the southern fishermen catch is the shark. Local people in the South of our country prepare a pudding-like dish with it. You can find shark dishes in almost all the restaurants and fast foods in the South. Some serve it as a sandwich, and some order it with rice. The way to prepare the shark dish is to first boil its meat with some salt and turmeric. After cooking the flesh, they press it entirely with a wire mesh to drain its water. They separate the skin and cartilage from the heart and, in the end, shred the shark meat and fry it with a lot of garlic, tomato, lime powder, aromatic herbs, onions, and any other aromatic spice they want. Quality shark meat in the South is among the most expensive seafood dishes, and if you go to a restaurant in the South of our country with shark pudding on its menu, definitely try it.

Demey Lekhlakh

This Iranian dish is from our country’s Arabian coasts of the Persian Gulf. Local people on these coasts prepare this stew with Fish like humor, Bangsar, samiti, and Red Fish. In addition to Fish, garlic, onions, butter or oil, dill, and a unique southern spice called “Jan” are used to prepare this dish. Know that the name of this dish is derived from the Arabic word “Lekhlakha,” meaning a pleasant smell.

Lentil Dal of Bushehr

Another southern dish we want to mention in this article is the lentil dal. This dish, rich in beta-carotene, is a rich source for strengthening the body’s immune system and also improves vision. It’s also an excellent choice for enhancing memory. If you ever visit Bushehr, definitely try this dish. Consuming this dish with pickles and herbs is highly enjoyable.

Ankas or Marbled Fish

If you’re interested in white meat with no bones among Fish, the marbled Fish or the Ankas dish can become one of your favorites. This Fish is rarely sold in south Iran, and only specific restaurants cook it. If you’re interested in buying and cooking this Fish, ask the seller to completely separate and clean its marble for you, although sellers are usually aware. You can cut the white meat of this Fish into marbled pieces and make a very delicious dish out of it, just like other dishes. Most marbled Fish in the South of Iran are exported and rarely reach southern kitchens. You can cook various kebabs and words with this Fish.

The dishes made from various fishes in the South and mentioned here are served with rice or pilaf. Sometimes, they eat them with local bread types. They prepare delicious sandwiches with local red spicy sauces. So, whenever you travel to the South, don’t forget to enjoy a meal at local restaurants.