Many people enjoy trying traditional dishes, or local foods when traveling to a new destination. If you are among this group, Iran will be an amazing choice for your next vacation.
Iranian are popular for being great cooks. Moreover, what you will notice when traveling in Iran is the variety of dishes they have.
In addition to traditional Iranian dishes that are cooked in all parts of the country, most cities and villages have their own type of local foods and Persian food recipes too.
Persian foods are divided into different types, including Abgoosht and Dizi, Chellow, Stew, and Kebab.
Here is the list of best Persian food that you should try when traveling around Iran.
Read more: Things to know before Travel to Iran
What is the national dish of Iran?
When checking a menu of an Iranian restaurant you will definitely witness some foods called Khoresh (some say Khoresht). This term is a generic word for stew dishes in Iranian cuisine.
You will find a wide range of khoresh in Iran, there are some of those like Ghormeh Sabzi, Gheimeh, and Fesenjan that cooked in all cities and also some like Khoresht Mast which only cooked in Isfahan.
In this article we are going to introduce you some type of Khoresh to make you familiar with those, so, don’t forget to take a note or memorize the names of the ones you liked most to order it when you are at a restaurant in different cities in Iran!
Khoresht-e Ghormeh Sabzi (Herb Stew)
Ghormeh Sabzi is the most beloved Persian stew among Iranian and international tourists and you can find it in almost any menu of the restaurants.
The main ingredients of the stew are meat (lamb or veal), fresh herbs (parsley, coriander, and spinach) and kidney beans. To cook the stew, onion and some spices are used.
Khoresht-e Karafs (Celery Stew)
The main ingredient of Khoresht-e Karafs is celery, therefore, the stew is very healthy. In addition to celery, other herbs are mint and parsley.
It is cooked with lamb or veal. Some people also add kidney beans and pomegranate paste which is not that much popular.
Usually, the taste of Khoresht-e Karafs is a little bit sour.
Khoresht-Bademjan (Eggplant Stew)
Badenjan (Eggplant) used in many different dishes in Iranian dishes, however, the one which is most popular is Khoresht-e Bademjan.
The main ingredient of the stew is meat and eggplant with onion and spice. Tomato sauce is also added to the stew.
Khoresht-e Fesenjan (Walnut Stew)
Fesenjan is the kind of stew that has different recipe among Iranian. Some people cook Fesenjan with chicken and some with meatballs. Some cook it sweet and some sour.
Whatever you choose as meat the major ingredient is crushed walnut with pomegranate taste.
Khoresht-e Gheimeh (Yellow split peas Stew)
Meat and yellow split peas are the basic ingredients of the stew. Tomato paste, onion and spices are also added while cooking. The stew is served with French fries in small and thin slices.
If you ever heard the word “Nazri” you may know that Iranian distribute food for free on some religious occasions. Khoresht-e Gheimeh is the most popular stew for Nazri.
Khoresht-e Mast (Beef yogurt stew)
This stew is mostly cooked in Isfahan, it is a little bit strange by the name, however, it is very delicious. People eat it as a main dish or even as dessert because of its sweet taste.
Beef, plain yogurt, and saffron are the main ingredients in addition to onion, turmeric egg, and sugar. The stew is a mixture of all the ingredients and it’s not possible to identify the components.
Boz Ghormeh (Beef Stew)
The same as Khoresht-e Mast this stew is not that popular in Iran and only cooked in Kerman province.
The mixture contains beef, beans, whey kashk and onion. Garlic, saffron, turmeric, salt, and pepper are also added to the stew as spices.
What is the most traditional food in Iran?
Abgoosht (Ab stands for water and goosht for meat) is one of the most traditional food in Iran.
When Abgoosht cooked and served in stone crock pots it’s called Dizi. Whether the name is Abgoosht or Dizi, you should absolutely try this local cuisine when you travel to Iran.
The food has been cooked for so many years and therefore ingredients and recipe of it has been changed in different parts of Iran.
It used to be cooked by lamb, onion and chickpeas only, but nowadays tomatoes and potatoes also added to the stew. However, the way it’s served is still remained the same in all over the country.
When cooked, serving has a special custom, people eat both Abgoosht and Dizi is two-part.
First, they split the soup or broth from the remaining ingredients and poured it into a bowl, then put small pieces of bread (usually Sangak) into the soup and eat the mixture with a spoon.
The process of adding bread to the soup is called “Tilit”. Then they mash the rest of the ingredients and eat it with onion, pickles, basil, and radish.
As mentioned, in different cities of Iran, they have their own ingredients and recipes to cook Abgoosht & Dizi, let’s check some of those:
In Kerman, they cook Abgoosht with meat, lots of caraways and some garlic, there don’t add any potatoes or beans in the stew.
Abgoosht Bozbash is another type of Abgoosht which is mostly cooked in Tabriz. Instead of chickpeas, they use cowpea and also add chives, parsley, and fenugreek.
This Abgoosht is mostly green rather than the red color of the traditional one.
Another type of Abgoosht is called Abgoosht Baghi (Bagh stands for the garden). In addition to all traditional ingredients, different types of fruits such as peach, apple, cherry, and apricot added to the ingredient.
You may find some other type of Abgoosht & Dizi while traveling in Iran, here we mentioned the most popular ones in the country. All we can suggest is try traditional cuisine!
What is the difference between Chellow and Polow?
Having rice for lunch is very common and popular in Iran. To have tasty and various types of foods with rice there are two ways of cooking Iranian rice.
The first one to cook it plain with salt and oil which names Chellow. In this way, the cooked rice is served with a type of Kebab, Stew or chicken.
The second type of cooking rice is with a mixture of vegetables, fresh herbs, meatballs, and etc. When the rice is cooked as a mixture it is called Polow. You can find this type of rice dishes in buffet restaurants and traditional ones.
Adas Polow (Lentil Rice)
Adas Polow is a very delicious mixture of rice and lentils. If you are a vegetarian this cuisine would be suitable for you. However, some people serve it with chicken, meatballs, or fried egg.
Reshteh Polow (Rice with Noodles)
Reshteh is almost the same as Chinese noodles but thinner and flat. To cook this dish what you need is rice, reshteh, chicken, and onion.
This cuisine is very popular to eat at the Persian New Year’s Eve because it’s believed that you will have a better clue of your destiny in the following year.
Loobia Polow (Rice with Green Beans)
Loobia Polow is cooked with rice, green beans, layers of chopped meats and fried onions. Tomato paste and lots of spices like cinnamon added to the mixture to make the dish tastier. It is very common to eat Loobia Polow with Shirazi Salad or pickles.
Estamboli Polow (Tomato Rice)
This type of Polow cooked with different ingredients and instruction over the country. The main components are rice and tomato, some also add cubed potatoes, others in addition to potato add meatballs.
Tahchin (Layered Saffron Rice & Chicken)
Tahchin is cooked as different layers. Rice is mixed with saffron, yogurt, and egg. The other layer is usually cooked chicken, however, you can find some with meat or eggplant.
What are the Best dishes in Iran for vegetarians?
With a variety of Iranian food culture, and therefore, numerous cuisines in different parts of the country, Iran is one of the greatest places for food lovers!
If you are a vegetarian and have some concern about what to eat when you travel to Iran, you don’t need to worry about that at all. There are numbers of dishes in Iran, which prepare and serve without any type of meat.
1.Dishes with eggplant as the main ingredient
- Borani Bademjan, a mixture of cooked and chopped eggplant, and dried yogurt
- Naz Khatoon, a mixture of cooked and chopped eggplants, basil, parsley, mint, angelica powder, walnuts, olive oil, and pomegranate juice
- Yatimcheh, a mixture of cooked and chopped in cube forms of eggplant, tomato, and onion
- Kashk-e Bademjan, a mixture of cooked and chopped eggplant, kashk (whey sauce), fried onion, and fried mint
2.Dishes with egg as the main ingredient
One of the common dishes in Iran calls Kookoo, which is a mixture of egg with another type of vegetable, cooked in round shapes, like fried cookies, here is a list of the most popular ones:
- Kookoo Sibzamini, cooked with potato
- Kuku Sabzi, cooked with mixed herbs, some people add walnuts and berries also
- Kookoo Kadoo sabz, cooked with zucchini
- Eshkeneh, cooked fried hers, and potato
- Nargesi, cooked with spinach and onion
3.Dishes with rice as the main ingredient
- Dampokhtak, cooked rice with beans, turmeric is the main spice of this dish, so it is colored in yellow!
- Dami gojeh, cooked rice with tomato, some people also add potato
- Loobia polo, cooked rice with green beans, it is cooked with meat and without meat, so as a suggestion check before you order
- Adas polo, cooked rice with lentils and fried raisins, it is also common to cook it with meatball or chicken, so as a suggestion check before you order
- Havij polo, cooked rice with carrots and walnut
The Persian dishes, we named above, are the ones which could be found all over the country.
It may be not that easy to find them all in big, fancy restaurants, but in smaller ones, especially the old, traditional ones, you can find those.
However, the provinces in the northern part of Iran; Gilan and Mazandaran, are popular for some of the best vegetarian foods in Iran, they are specialized in cooking some of the most delicious foods in the country.
One thing that you should keep in mind, and will notice when you are at these places, is that to add lots of garlic to food is very popular in these provinces.
In the following, there is a list of popular dishes in Gilan and Mazandaran:
- Mirza Ghasemi, a mixture of barbequed eggplant with tomatoes, and egg
- Baghala Ghatogh, a mixture of cooked Rashti fava beans, egg, and dill
- Torshi Tareh, cooked herbs with different types of beans, in some places, they also add egg
- Paneer boroshteh, it is the same as an omelet, cheese with egg
What are the different types of Iranian Kebab?
Iranian pay a lot of attention to their food and that is the reason why you can find a different type of one kind of food in the menus of their restaurants.
As an example you can find at least five to six different types of Iranian Kebab or as Iranian pronounce Kabab in the menus of most restaurants.
Usually with all type of Kabab one or two grilled tomatoes is served. You can ask for your dish with or without rice.
Koobideh is the signature of Iranian Kabab and the most famous one between local and international tourists. It is cooked from ground lamb or beef with chopped onions. Sometimes you can find it with chicken but it is not very common and popular.
Joojeh Kabab is barbecued chicken with marinated by olive oil and saffron. Different parts of chicken used, such as tenders, wings, and thighs.
In the menus, you can find Joojeh Kabab with bone or boneless. The boneless one is usually with the chicken breast.
The main ingredient of Kabab-e Barg is fillets of beef tenderloin or lamb shank. The mast is marinated in onions, saffron, olive oil, and mild spices.
Shishlik or Shish Kebab
Shishlik with the same name is very popular in different countries of central Asia, eastern and southern Europe. However, the one you will find in Iranian restaurants is different from the ones that cooked in other countries.
In Iran, it is cooked of large parts of lamb, served in five (and sometimes six) pieces per dish.
Kabab torsh is a traditional kebabs from Mazandaran and Gilan provinces in the north part of Iran.
It is somehow the same as Kabab Barg which is cooked from beef but marinated in a mixture of crushed walnuts and garlic, pomegranate juice and chopped parsley.
Because of the pomegranate juice, it has a sour taste.
Kabab Soltani (Soltani stand for Royal) is served with a combination of one skewer of Kabab Barg and one Kabab Koobideh.
Kabab Vaziri literally means minister and compared to Soltani it is a combination of one skewer of Joojeh and one Koobideh. So if you like to taste both chicken and meat this is a good choice for you.
Kabab Bakhtiari which sometimes called Kabab Bolghari: is a combination of one skewer Joojeh kabab and one Kabab Barg.
If you are a meat lover and prefer the real taste of the meat this is what you most enjoy. Chenjeh is cooked from the meat of newly slaughtered sheep in small rocky shaped pieces.
Read more: Top 5 Iranian Seafood cuisine
What are the most popular Soups and Ash in Iran?
Different types of Ash and Soups are one of the most popular and traditional bowls in Iran. Some of those cooked with the same recipes in almost all over the country, while the others are unique and specially made in only one or two cities.
Generally speaking, ash is a type of soup with more ingredients. It is also heavier than soup and can be considered as a lunch or dinner itself.
Soup-e Morgh o Sabzijat (Chicken and Vegetable Soup) and Soup-e Jo (Barley Soup) are the most common soups in the country and could be found in most of the restaurants.
Main ingredients of Chicken and vegetable soup is chicken, onion, carrot, celery, tomato, parsley and noodles.
Barley soup has a variety of recipes and ingredients in a different part of the country. Some add chicken and carrots, while the others only cook it with barley and milk.
Ash-e Reshteh (Reshteh is similar to noodle)
Iranian’s favorite ash is Ash-e Reshteh (Reshteh is similar to noodle), the ingredient is reshteh, brown lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans and whey (Kashk).
Ash-e Jo (Barley Ash)
The other popular ash in Iran is Ash-e Jo (Barley Ash). As it is obvious from the name of it the major ingredient is barley, in addition to onion, carrots and chicken stock. Some people also add sour cream.
If you travel around Iran, you will find so many different types of ash in each province. As an example, Ash-e Dough (Dough is sour drink from milk) is very common in West Azerbaijan and Ardabil,
- Ash-e Shole Ghalamkar (the main ingredient is meat and beans) in Tehran,
- Ash-e Miveh (Fruit) in Ardabil,
- Ash-e Tarkhineh (Dried mixture of wheat and barley) in Lorsetan and Kermanshah,
- Ash-e Torsh (Sour ash with local vegetable) in Mazandaran and
- Ash-e Abghoreh (Sour juice from unripe grapes) in Fars.
If you are interested to taste traditional Iranian food, you can book our Persian food tour.
Read more: Top 8 Iranian Beverage and Drinks