Iranian Food / Persian Cuisine

persian food

Iranians have looked at food at three different ways for many centuries; medicinal, philosophical and cultural.

Physicians and philosophers considered food and beverages as the main factor to revive body. Consuming food is a way of weakening or strengthening human character. Consuming a lot of red meat and fats was thought to create evil thoughts and make us selfish. However, consuming a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables, fish, fowl, mixed petals and blossoms of roses create unusual powers and make us gentle and noble creatures.

The ancient philosophy of cold and hot food is linked to ancient Zoroastrian religion of the Achaemenian and Sassanian. This philosophy once was shared with other civilizations including China, India, and the medieval West. From region to region, the classifications may vary. In general, animal fat, poultry, wheat, sugar, some fresh fruits and vegetables, and all dried vegetables and fruits are considered as hot. Most beef, fish, rice, dairy products, fresh vegetables and fruits are considered as cold. Based on your nature, season or illness, you eat cold or hot foods. Even today, the way foods are combined and served takes this into consideration. For instance, walnut, a hot food is combined in a dish that includes pomegranate, a cold food, to make the dish balanced and delicious. From cultural aspect, food was considered to be an art providing enjoyment to both body and mind. Iranians refined the taste and flavour of food and how it is presented although it still retains roots in its ancient sources. Iranians cook based on what is in season so the food is as fresh and as best quality as it can be. Fragrance during cooking and at the table plays an important role, the same as the taste. Presentation of food is a major factor.

Food is garnished so that it pleases the eye. Iran was first to use many common herbs such as basil, mint, cumin, cloves, and coriander. Many different foods originated or introduced in Iran such as oranges, pistachios, spinach, saffron, sweet and sour sauces, kabobs, almond pastries, etc. Women have had a great influence in the history of cooking in Iran. The best chefs were women. From the palaces of Persian kings to the average housewife, women have had fabulous skills in the preparation of food. Therefore, homemade food is precious and more appreciated than that of food prepared in a restaurant. In Iran today, most woman has the extraordinary culinary competence with an art and dedication when preparing simple meals to using their imagination when entertaining large groups. This characteristic does not only apply to housewives but also to professional women having full time jobs preparing elaborate and elegant meals without shortcuts with simple equipment in their kitchens. Throughout the history, the art of Persian cooking expanded to all the Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, and Syria. Today, when dishes are made, culinary history of Persian cooking is noted. Like other countries, special foods are prepared for different occasions, i.e. weddings, funerals, birthdays, Persian New Year (Noruz), and historical feasts, formal and state gatherings.

Iranian cuisine

Iranian food or Persian cuisine refers to the traditional and modern styles of cooking related to Iran. Situated in the Middle East, the Iranian culinary style is unique to Iran, though has historically both influenced and has been influenced by Iran’s neighboring regions at various stages throughout its history. Specifically, these have been mutual culinary influences to and from Mesopotamian cuisine, Anatolian cuisine, and especially the Central Asian cuisine.[1][2] Many foods famously associated with Middle Eastern, and indeed World cuisine have their origins in Iran, such as kebab and ice cream.

It includes a wide variety of foods ranging from chelow kabab (rice served with roasted meat: barg, koobideh, joojeh, shishleek, soltani, chenjeh), khoresht (stew that is served with white basmati or Iranian rice: ghormeh sabzi, gheimeh, fesenj?n, and others), ?sh (a thick soup: for example ?sh-e an?r), kuku (vegetable souffle), polo (white rice alone or with addition of meat and/or vegetables and herbs, including loobia polo, albaloo polo, sabzi polo, zereshk polo, baghali polo and others), and a diverse variety of salads, pastries, and drinks specific to different parts of Iran. The list of Persian recipes, appetizers and desserts is extensive.

Fresh green herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Typical Persian main dishes are combination of rice with meat, lamb, chicken, or fish and some onion, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. To achieve a balanced taste, characteristic Persian flavorings such as saffron, dried limes, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes.