Traditional Dishes of Mazandaran and Gilan

One of the primary destinations in Iran is its northern cities, which annually attract numerous travelers and tourists. In addition to their unique attractions, these cities offer delicious dishes. Food is a symbol that aptly reflects the culture of each region. In Northern Iran, creative people have produced delicious dishes using the freshest and best ingredients. Northern Iran is filled with colorful words that, with native seasonings, are compelling and renowned throughout the country.
What makes Northern Iranian cuisine unique?

Northern Iranian cuisine is distinguished by its use of fresh local ingredients like fish, herbs, and pomegranates, combined with native seasonings that create savory, often sour flavors unique to the region. Dishes often feature rice, greens, and legumes, reflecting the rich agricultural diversity of Mazandaran and Gilan.

 Mirza Ghasemi, a smoky eggplant dip flavored with garlic and tomatoes, served with fresh bread or rice, is a beloved dish from Gilan and a perfect introduction to the flavors of the north.

Beshteh Vaash, a meatless dish featuring local greens and herbs, and Baqla Ghatogh, a comforting stew of beans, dill, and eggs, are excellent vegetarian dishes typical of the region.

Duck with Pomegranate (Aghuz Masma) is a festive and luxurious dish that combines rich, fatty duck with the tart sweetness of pomegranates, commonly served during special occasions.

Many dishes, such as Kadu Bareh (stuffed zucchini) and Nardooni, cater to various dietary needs, being naturally gluten-free and, in some cases, vegan-friendly.

Northern Iran’s dishes often incorporate fruits like pomegranates and plums to add natural sweetness or tartness, as seen in dishes like Pomegranate Stew (Anarbij) and Gilan’s Plum Stew.

Frequently Asked Questions: Northern Iran's Culinary Delights

What you will read in this article:

Malabij: A Special Northern Dish

The North boasts numerous seafood dishes, and to prepare these dishes, certain seasonings are used that render them unique. Malabij is one such northern seafood dish popular in Gilan and Mazandaran provinces. It is used to prepare Whitefish, aromatic herbs, walnut kernels, and pomegranate paste. While traditionally, the fish is cooked over an open flame or coal, nowadays, with most households owning an oven, the preparation has become more convenient. To prepare this dish, the belly of a male whitefish is stuffed with pomegranate paste, herbs, and walnuts. Finally, the fish is grilled over coals.

Sour Chicken: The Special Dish of Gilan

Sour Chicken is a traditional Northern Iranian dish that is distinguished by the presence of garlic and sour orange. The ingredients needed for this dish include chicken meat, onion, garlic, sour orange juice, rice cake, finely chopped herbs (a mix of parsley, cilantro, mint, and occasionally some leek), water, egg, salt, and pepper. First, the Chicken is fried well with onions and garlic; then, salt, pepper, and herbs are added afterward. Now it’s time to add the rice cake, 1.5 liters of water, and fresh sour orange juice. The pot is left for a few hours until the stew is settled. But that’s not the end! Ten minutes before the stew’s cooking, two beaten eggs are added evenly across its surface. The dish doesn’t require many spices since its primary flavor comes from sour orange juice and fresh herbs. It’s best to soak the rice cakes overnight and boil them well for 25 minutes before adding them to the stew.

Kal Kabab

Kal Kabab is a tasty northern appetizer you shouldn’t miss when visiting the North. While the name might make you think it’s a meat dish, it’s not! The ingredients required for this dish are grilled eggplant, a mix of crushed garlic and ground walnuts, sour pomegranate juice, mint, and a local herb called Chuchaq. Chuchaq is a northern herb that can be found in local northern markets. Given its intense flavor, only a tiny amount is used in this dish. To prepare, the grilled eggplants are first mashed with a meat mallet, then Chuchaq, mint, and a mix of garlic and walnuts are added. The mashing continues until the ingredients are well combined. Finally, several spoons of pomegranate juice are added, giving the dish a beautiful pink color. Interestingly, northerners typically prepare this dish in unique clay pots called “Gomaj,” widely used in ancient times.

Garlic Turmeric (Seer Vavij)

A simple Gilani stew is usually prepared during the garlic leaf season, in autumn and winter, throughout Gilan province. The main ingredients are garlic leaves, eggs, salt, pepper, turmeric, and liquid oil. To prepare, garlic leaves are sautéed and then combined with beaten eggs. That’s it! It is typically served with rice and salted fish and is especially delightful when eaten beside the Caspian Sea.


This dish is prepared similarly to Seer Va Avij, with the addition of the Gijavash herb. Gijavash is a local herb that grows wild on the hills of Gilan. Garlic greens and Gijavash are sautéed for this dish, then beaten eggs are poured over them. This delicious meal is known as one of the local dishes of Mazandaran province.

Pomegranate Stew (Anarbij)

Anarbij is similar to Fesenjan but includes pomegranate juice and herbs. The main ingredients are ground walnuts, herbs (parsley, cilantro, chives, spinach, mint, and a bit of fenugreek), pomegranate juice, grated onion, pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper, turmeric, ground meat, and golfer (Angelica seeds). To prepare, ground walnuts, pomegranate juice, and molasses are combined and heated until thickened. After a while, the sautéed herbs are added. In a separate container, meatballs made from ground meat and onion are prepared and added to the stew. A few minutes before the stew is done cooking, solar is also added. Use waterless onions to ensure the meatballs do not break apart in the hash.

Sour Kebab

A dish you must try when visiting the North. The meat is flavored with finely chopped vegetables, oil, onion, grated garlic, ground walnuts, and tangy pomegranate molasses before being grilled over charcoal.

Naz Khatun

If you enjoy the flavor of eggplant, you will undoubtedly fall in love with this pickle. The first taste that hits you when consuming this is grilled eggplant. To make Naz Khatun, ingredients such as eggplant, tomatoes, grated onion, verjuice, dried mint, and pomegranate molasses are used. Preparing this pickle is relatively easy; perhaps the most time-consuming task is grilling the eggplants.

Kadu Bareh

This vegetarian dish is a favorite among those looking to lose weight. It is made with potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and eggs. Because it cooks quickly, many northern families opt for this dish when they’re short on time!

Duck with Pomegranate (Aghuz Masma)

Even if you’re strictly on a diet, you might find it hard to resist this delicious dish. The combination of duck meat and walnuts makes this a hearty, energy-boosting meal. Ingredients include duck meat, walnuts, sautéed onions, water, sugar, pomegranate molasses, and crushed seeds. You’ll need to give this dish a few hours to fully set, after which it’s best enjoyed with rice and local pickles.

Mirza Ghasemi with Eggplant: A Northern Delicacy

Mirza Ghasemi is among the most renowned dishes of northern Iran, popularly prepared even in other cities. This dish contains eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, eggs, spices, and paste. The key ingredient that makes it delicious is grilled eggplants. Interestingly, this delectable dish is known as one of the favorite local foods in Iran, relished by people all over the country.

Gilan's Plum Stew

If you like sweet-and-sour dishes, the plum stew is likely one of your favorites. Chicken, pomegranate seeds, sour orange juice, saffron, onions, plums, and walnuts are used to prepare this dish. It’s essential to let the stew thicken before serving. If the pomegranate seeds are sour, add some sugar to give it a sweeter taste.

Espinasaak: A Northern Bread Dish

The main ingredient of this delightful Mazandarani dish is spinach. Once you try it, you’ll appreciate the unique taste of spinach. This dish uses meat, fresh spinach, aromatic herbs, garlic, mint, onions, and carrots.

Torsheh Tareh

Leek pickle ( Torsheh Tareh ) is another favored northern dish. To prepare it, first, mash the garlic with salt and turmeric. Then add eggs to it. In a separate pot, cook rice with finely chopped greens. After some time, add flour to this mixture. Finally, pour the egg and garlic mixture into the stew, and the dish is ready.

Baghala Vaabij

Many northern and Mazandarani dishes use pilaf beans, which provide a distinctive flavor. Baghala Vaabij is prepared using beans, dried dill, eggs, garlic, and butter. It’s typically served with aromatic northern rice, cultivated olives, and salted fish.

Garlic-Pomegranate Stew

This famous stew once again uses pomegranate! Other ingredients include dried shallot powder, Chicken, garlic powder, sesame oil, saffron, garlic, pomegranate paste, and onions. This dish settles after about 1-2 hours, and instead of Chicken, you can use quail meat.

Baqla Ghatogh

Baqla Ghatogh is a popular northern dish with green beans, dill, garlic, and eggs. It’s usually served with sticky rice. To make this dish, garlic and dill are first sautéed, then beans and water are added until it’s cooked well. Once the beans are cooked, eggs are added.

Beshteh Vaash: A Meatless Northern Dish

No list of northern foods is complete without delicious, nourishing, and fragrant soups, especially delightful during the cold winter months. Spinach, lentils, garlic, onions, and green cumin are used to prepare this soup.

Nardooni (Pomegranate Seeds Stew)

Indeed, by now, you’ve realized the significant role pomegranate seeds and paste play in Northern Iranian dishes. “Nardooni” means pomegranate seeds! The ingredients needed for this dish include garlic, onion, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate paste, and Chicken. First, sauté the onions and garlic, then add the Chicken until it turns golden. It’s now time for the pomegranate seeds and paste. Finally, water is added to cook it like a stew. This delicious dish is typically served with the aromatic rice of the North.

Esfenaj Marji (Spinach and Pomegranate Mix)

This dish utilizes a combination of spinach and pomegranate. You might think the taste of these two together might not be very appealing, but we recommend trying this unique dish at least once. “Esfenaj Marji” uses cooked spinach, lentils, garlic, and sour pomegranate. Spinach and lentils make this a suitable container for those with iron deficiencies.

Shevid Ghormeh (Dill Stew)

This dish is prepared with fresh dill, meat, oil, onion, green tomatoes, and red beans. It must be cooked for hours to be perfectly seasoned. However, be sure to soak the beans for several hours beforehand.

Kaei Pela (Squash Rice)

Kaei Pela is another popular Mazandarani dish with grated squash, ground meat, onion, cumin, rice, turmeric, and local butter. However, you can adjust the main ingredients according to your taste.