What are some delicious Iranian cuisines

17 traditional dishes from Iran that you should have tried

She is ready! A week, various restaurants, cafés and local kitchens later, I can finally show you what my Iranian partners and I have worked so hard on. During my stay in Iran I really wanted to do a food photography work about traditional Persian / Iranian food. The result that I got around in the end makes me incredibly proud. I hope I can take you a little into the fantastic world of Persian cuisine.

Chapter 1 - Arriving in Tehran

Chapter 2 - With Mohsen in Shiraz

[Our concept - English only, at least for the time being]

Not only is the way to a man’s heart through his stomach. In the same way, the culinary path is one of the best ways to get to know a land and its compatriots.

You may visit the oldest buildings, spend hours and hours in museums and galleries but nothing will get you as close to a culture and its people than sitting on a kitchen table with a Persian family devouring Mama's best homemade meals or walking over a buzzing bazaar and being seduced by the variety of smells and foreign looking delicacies.

Cooking and food has been around for quite a while (it's basically of vital importance) and is therefore a great conservator of history, memories and emotions.

Even more like that. Food is a universal language that everyone can understand.
Shapes, tastes, smells, textures - everyone will have an opinion and be able to recognize differences whether they'll be positive or negative.

Furthermore it does not only come down to cultural differences of various countries only. Food is so much more minute and also depicts the niceties that separate the respective regions of a country from each other.

This is why we created this series about traditional Iranian food, focusing mainly on the most popular as well as most traditional or ‘uncommon’ (compared to the German culture) food examples.

Instead of showing the food only we decided to style the food in a light and vivid environment with items that represent the Iranian culture even more, such as traditional table ware, old fabrics and even managed to add a hint of blue - the traditional Iranian blue - into each photo.

Kebab koobideh & Doogh - Kebab & sour yogurt drink

kebab is a classic that we Germans mostly know from Turkish cuisine. In Iran you can find it on every corner, and it is best eaten with rice or bread and basil.
Dooghis a refreshing drink made from yogurt, water and mint. Anyone who knows Turkish Ayran also has a rough idea of ​​Doogh, which, depending on the brand and taste, fluctuates between salty and sour.

Zereshk polo ba morgh - rice with barberries and chicken

That comes right after kebab chicken second of the most popular and common Persian foods. Like almost every dish, chicken is also served with rice. The barberries are cooked with saffron, sugar and oil and are sweet to sour, depending on the taste.

Morghe Zaferani - Saffron Chicken

At saffron there is no way around Iran. It is used in almost all common dishes. So, of course, for the ever-popular chicken.

Polo ba tahdig sibzamini - rice with potatoes

We can still learn something from the Iranian way of cooking rice *. A pot comes with Potato slices laid out and filled with pre-cooked rice. Masses of butter / oil should not be missing. This arrangement is now cooked until the rice and potatoes have a nice crispy, golden crust (the tastiest part of the whole dish).

This is how you do it perfect persian rice at home

Morassa polo - rice with various toppings

Another very tasty variant for more festive occasions - Morassa polo is a sweetly prepared saffron rice with orange peel, raisins, almonds, pistachios, carrots and barberries *. It is served as a contrast to hearty meat.

Sabzi khordan, zeytoon parvarde & shoor - fresh herbs, marinated olives and pickled vegetables

Sabzi khordan are different mixed herbs, Radishes and spring onions that are placed on the table with the meal.
Zeytoon parvarde are Olives in a sauce made from pomegranate and walnuts. This traditional dish comes from Northern Iran.
Shoor means pickled vegetables. The Iranians put everything in! Shoor is the salty variant, while pickled vegetables are called torshie makhloot.
If you want to do Shoor yourself there is one at Esepop suitable recipe for this.

Mast moosir - hearty yoghurt with herbs

A hearty yogurt with garlic and various herbs that is served with all kinds of dishes. Yogurt is, so to speak, a staple food in Iran.

Kashke bademjoon - Hearty eggplant dip with garlic

A starter consisting of quark, aubergine and garlic, topped with fried mint and glazed onions. Served with, how else could it be, bread.

Mirza ghasemi - Hearty eggplant dip with tomatoes, garlic and egg

Another very tasty starter from the Northern Iran. Eggplant is mixed with tomatoes, garlic and egg and served with bread. Esepop also has one for this recipeready (my insider tip and absolute favorite food from 12 days in Tehran :))

Torshie bademjoon shekam por - Stuffed Eggplant & Sweet Basil-Seed Drink

A very sour starter. Pickled eggplant is stuffed with even more pickled vegetables. I already mentioned that the Iranians like to insert, right?

Khame moraba ba asal - Iranian fruit salad

Mixed seasonal fruit,Cream and various jams and honey (and bread). This is how breakfast works.

Sobhaneye sonati irani - traditional Iranian breakfast

A simple breakfast in Iran it can look something like this: Creamy (feta-like) cheese (tabrizi), tomatoes, cucumber, bread, walnuts, olives and melon.

Chai Siah - Traditional Iranian black tea

If you should ever travel to Iran, you can't avoid black tea *. Iranians drink tea. To. Everyone. Time.

Gol gavzaban and ranginak– blossom tea (borage) and sweet date and walnut dessert

These purple flowers have a very gentle taste of their own and should have a calming effect. For this reason, boretsch tea * is often drunk in the evening. If you add lemon, the purple tea water turns red.

Ranginak is a dessert from southern Iran and consists mainly of walnuts, dates, pistachios, and cinnamon.

Chai Zaferani - saffron tea

This yellow tea will be happy to special events served (e.g. family celebrations). It's supposed to lighten the mood and make you happy.

Shirini sonati irani - traditional Iranian sweets

In Iran, tea is never served alone. Fresh fruit or a few sweet or salty snacks are always included.
A few of them are for example (from top to bottom):

  • Nabat * - rock sugar with saffron to sweeten tea.
  • Nane berenji - saffron biscuits
  • baslogh - A marshmallow-like candy made from cornmeal and coconut, as well as various fillings
  • Baklava - very similar to Turkish baklava
  • Gaz (Iranian white nougat)
  • Ghotab (a special cookie from Yazd)
  • Fresh, juicy and very sweet dates * (which are more delicious and cheaper than all the dates you have ever eaten in Germany)

Kalle Pache - head and legs of the sheep

We come to the big highlight of the series, which you have all been waiting for.

Contrary to all expectations, Kalle Pache, the Iranian delicacy that European eyes have to get used to, is served early in the morning for breakfast eaten. The dish is very greasy and heavy and is therefore not eaten daily, but more on a weekly basis. These are part of Kalle Pache brain, the eyes, the tongue, Ears and legs from the sheep. Sheep is also eaten in a broth with softened bread and oil - like a soup.

Before you form a biased opinion about something, you should research it carefully. And if you already have the chance to photograph a sheep's head and nicely draped brains, then you shouldn't be afraid to try this specialty from a foreign culture yourself (provided that the specially imposed diet is not in conflict with it).

So I can say that I ate a sheep's head, not that it was ever on my bucket list, and I have to admit that it didn't really convince me. The brain was mostly a massive lump of fat and not particularly culinary excitement. The tongue and eyes (many Iranians like them best), on the other hand, were very tender and digestible, while the legs were simply gristly and (to me) tasted strange. The innards and extremities were served poured over with a broth and topped with cinnamon and lemon. This culinary experience was definitely an unusual one, but it definitely didn't drift into a ‘disgusting’ area. Anyone who slaughters an animal for consumption should, if possible, use everything and not just what is called ‘appetizing’ from a limited perspective.

Thank you for reading, marveling, commenting and sharing this article. This food photography project was carried out by Arezou Babadi, Mina Abbaspanah and myself in Tehran, Iran with the help of DAADwho realized the TWO Cities Workshop and exchange the Tehran Art University and Dortmund University of Applied Sciences has supported and financed.

Write to me in the comments if you'd like to know more about how this project came about.

Got wanderlust?

The perfect reading to prepare and get in the mood *:


More articles about Iran:

Equipment used:

  • Canon 5d Mark II *
  • Sigma 35mm Art 1.4 *
  • Rectangular softbox * (similar model)
  • Studio Blitz * (similar model)
  • various food props that we bought during my stay, many parts from Arezou's own stock, as well as rusty metal plates and old tiles that we were allowed to take with us for free at the Laleh Bazar (because this junk is only of value for food photographers;)

Read more about my food photography equipment

Info & transparency | Links marked with an asterisk are so-called affiliate links! Orders that you place via this link support me with a small commission for working on this blog. Of course, this doesn't cost you a cent anymore and I see it as a thank you for the appreciation of my work. I always only recommend products or services that I use myself and of which I am completely convinced.