Persian food is not as well known as other Middle Eastern cuisines are in the western hemisphere. You might think that’s a bit sad, but we think it might actually be a bit of a gift. Just imagine what new worlds of tingling taste moments lie ahead for you! Come, come…let us tell you what you’ve been missing…
Pound for Pound- the Best Rice in the World
This is the cuisine’s cornerstone, the undisputed queen of any meal. There are many ways to serve this white jeweled deliciousness, but none is better than steaming it for hours on the stove, adding some saffron, barberries (google it) and flaked pistachio, and serve it all with a crispy bottom, called a ‘tahdig’ (literal translation ‘bottom of the pot’). Once you’ve mastered that cracker you get to move onto the ‘pro’ rice dishes- ‘tahchin morgh’ (a ‘cake’ of crispy topped saffron rice and yoghurt with chicken baked inside, ‘adas-polo’, where the rice is steamed with layers of lentils and raisins and so many more…taste the rice rainbow…
Whatever the variety of rice, cooking it is an art form, and always a bit of a silent competition. If you have no rice skills, you can not call yourself a cook. If you’re lucky enough to be together with an Iranian and you visit their parents’ house, pay very careful attention to the way you are served rice. And comment on how good it is. You’re welcome.
Persian cuisine is built around fresh and natural tastes, with a small selection of trusted spices. A variable climate, four distinct seasons, and fertile lands have produced a bright, sensuous, fruit-and-herb filled cuisine, best displayed in the variety of stews to enjoy with that epic rice.
Take ‘fesenjoon’, a delicious pomegranate and walnut stew…Or ‘gheyme’, a tangy and umami-rich, dried lime, split bean and fried potato version (can you hear our stomachs rumbling?). That’s not to forget the king of all stews, ‘ ghorme sabzi’, literally referring to cacophony of herbs that give it the distinct deep green colour (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.)
The wonderful world of the Persian kebabs does not have any limits. Whether it’s fish, poultry or beef doesn’t really matter, Iranians will serve it grilled to perfection.
Iranians love their kebab and in particular their emblematic ‘koobideh’. Minced meat, onions, salt and pepper are mixed together, grilled and served with bread or rice (and if you are a seasoned pro with both). It sounds simple, but simple is usually the most sublime.
The aubergine, an unsung hero
The mighty aubergine is served in 1001 varieties and is the quiet but stoic hero of different occasions. Mixed with yogurt, filled with rice stuffing, smoked and whirled into tomato and egg, mashed and topped with a salty whey reduction and put into thick stews, the aubergine is our favorite crowd pleaser.
Have we got you craving some of this heart throbbingly excitingly food yet? Next time you are looking for fireworks of natural flavours, planning to enjoy a variety of tastes and want to impress, turn towards this lesser known Middle-Eastern star. We promise you, it’s a game changer.