Savoring Iran: A Journey Through Traditional Flavors

The food of Iran, far more than simply the fuel of empires forms part of a rich cultural experience that has been evolving since Achaemenid times. The tradition of food incorporates medicinal and philosophical perspectives that are as valid today as they were 2000 years ago. Food is used to honor guests, see in New Year, and celebrate various social milestones.

What you will read in this article:

What makes Chelo-kabab a quintessential Iranian dish?

Chelo-kabab, often considered the national dish of Iran, consists of steamed saffron rice (chelo) and grilled kebabs of marinated lamb, beef, or chicken. This dish is significant due to its historical roots and its ubiquitous presence in Iranian family gatherings and restaurants, symbolizing Iranian culinary tradition.

Abgoosht, also known as Dizi, is a hearty stew made from lamb, chickpeas, white beans, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes. Traditionally, the broth is strained and eaten as a soup first, and the solid ingredients are then mashed together and consumed with flatbread, making it a two-part meal that is both nourishing and integral to Iranian family meals.

Khoresht is a term for stews in Iranian cuisine, typically served with rice. Popular varieties include Khoresht-e ghormeh sabzi (made with herbs, kidney beans, and lamb) and Khoresht-e fesenjan (made with pomegranate paste and ground walnuts, usually cooked with chicken or duck). These stews combine savory, sweet, and sometimes sour flavors, showcasing the complexity of Iranian cuisine.

Dolmeh refers to stuffed vegetables in Iranian cuisine, which can include bell peppers, tomatoes, or grape leaves filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and sometimes meat. The grape leaf version, known as Dolmeh Barg-e Mo, is especially popular during special occasions and can be served as an appetizer or a main dish.

A traditional drink often served with Iranian meals is Doogh, a yogurt-based beverage mixed with salt, water, and herbs (like mint). It’s refreshing and acts as a digestive aid, especially helpful with the rich and hearty dishes typical of Iranian cuisine.

Ash refers to a variety of thick, hearty soups in Iranian cuisine, each loaded with legumes, vegetables, and noodles. Unlike thinner, more broth-based soups, Ash is substantial enough to serve as a meal on its own and often includes yogurt, grains, and turmeric, reflecting the nutritional philosophy of ancient Persian medicine.

When dining in Iran, it’s customary to try a bit of everything offered as a sign of appreciation. Meals are typically enjoyed around a sofreh (a traditional tablecloth spread on the floor), and it’s common to eat with your right hand using bread as a utensil. Always compliment the cook, and be prepared for multiple offers of seconds, as hospitality is central to Iranian culture.

Frequently Asked Questions: Exploring Traditional Iranian Foods and Beverages

The Persian food philosophy also dictates that to maintain a balanced diet: “hot” and “cold” foods be eaten together. For if you drink Dugh (a drink made from churned sour milk or yogurt and mixed with water) with your fish meal, so, according to this philosophy, you have constituted a risky proposition for yourself; because both are cold. The hot and cold philosophy dates from the Achaemenid era but it is still widely adhered to.
Yogurt, cheese, radishes, and fresh green herbs are all “cold” and are common on Iranian tables as salt and pepper are in the West. They act as a balance to the ever-present meats and any sweet desserts, which are both “hot”.

Nowadays you can find a vast range of cuisines in Iran, as in most countries of the world.
There are many varied traditional and national Iranian dishes such as:


(steamed rice with grilled lamb)
Chelo-kabab is normally eaten with grilled tomatoes and herbs such as mint with the red powder of sumach sprinkled on the rice the powder is nourished and adds taste to the dish;

Abgoosht (Dizi)

(a soup of lamb, cereals. spices, and potatoes dried peas, and beans, with dried lime to give it a lightly sour taste); this dish is particularly popular in East and West Azerbaijan, and Ardebil province.


(a kind of sauce or stew which is commonly cooked with different ingredients and served with rice)
There are many kinds of Khoresht such as the chrome sabzi which is made with shredded onions and herbs with pieces of lamb and certain spices;

Fesenjan: (poultry. especially goose or duck, ground walnut, pomegranate syrup, sugar and spice)


(a mixture of meat, vegetables, and other materials wrapped in the fresh leaves of grapevine)


(with all sorts of cereal, vegetables, and herbs, sometimes with meat added).
There are many types of Aash depending on the region, of Iran you country: sholleh Ghalamkar, reshteh (noodles), kashk, etc.

Iran Food & Drink

Most provinces have their special dishes.
Also, pizzas and fast food can be found anywhere.
Rice and bread are the stable foods of the Iranians which they eat with meat and vegetable dishes along with herbs and yogurt.

Iran has a wide range of bread types and Iranian breads are some of the tastiest anywhere in the world. In Iran, bread is commonly purchased fresh out of the hearth. Different kinds of Iranian bread are Sangak, Lavash, Taftoon, and Barbary.
But of course, European types of bread such as the French baguette, and the English white slices are also available in Iran.
Iranians also make a wide range of sweets and confectionery in most of which they put pieces of almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts as well as dried fruits.
Yazd, Kerman, and Tabriz are well known for their sweets. The Sohan of Qom and Isfahan and kolaches of Gilan are well known throughout Iran and are very much relished. Iranians also prepare Many types of Sherbets or sweet drinks. As a beverage, there is always Cola, Pepsi, and nonalcoholic beer available. One of the common traditional Iranian beverages is Doogh (yogurt drink), which is used with fragrant vegetables in all parts of Iran, especially in the summer.
Black Tea is a very popular drink in Iran and in other words, it is the national drink of Iran which is served with crystallized or cubed sugar (Called “ghand” in Iran).
Also, there is a wide variety of fruit juices and drinks such as cherry cordial and banana milkshakes in Iran.
The caviar of Iran, which is obtained from sturgeon fish in the Caspian Sea, has a worldwide reputation and is a tonic. Different kinds of food are cooked in northern and southern parts of Iran with fish.

The shrimp of the Persian Gulf is amongst the best in the world and due to its quality, varieties of foods are cooked with it. Bread baking in Iran is done in different ways.

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