Many know Persian art and architecture. Many appreciate the intricacies in ancient Persian carpet-making. But many may not be acquainted with true Persian foods. Unfortunately, buy information pills Persian cuisine is sometimes lumped together with Arabic, but although they share similar geographic origins and some ingredients, there are distinct differences.

Of course, there are familiar sights at a Persian meal: rice, flat breads, kebabs, yogurt, grilled fish, meat stews. But there are unique uses of other ingredients. You might not be surprised to taste saffron and cardamom, but then you’ll find fruits like pomegranate and tamarind as well as walnuts and pistachios coursing through every course, complementing succulent meats, fishes, or pulses. Persian recipes deftly mix sweet and savoury ingredients to create dishes that burst with flavour.

Some dishes considered essential (it seems unfair to call them ‘basic’) are:

Jewelled rice: When the occasion for dinner needs more than just rice, this dish combines rice with dried fruits and nuts, creating a colourful treat for the eyes as well. Typically, pistachios and almonds slivers mix with barberries (like cranberries), glazed orange peel, and pomegranate and are spiced with saffron.

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Ghormeh Sabzi is a stew, but so much more. Its considered by many as a favoured Persian dish, combining an incredible mix of herbs that is sautéed to make the base of the stew. Dried limes are added for a singular tartness. As with many other Persian dishes, this can be made with meat or can be a perfect vegetarian option.

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Photo by turmericsaffron

Sabzi Khordan can be found at most meals. It is amazing in its simplicity but complex in the flavours to be discovered. A plate of fresh herbs and roots (parsley, cilantro, radishes, scallions, dill, basil, mint, chives) often accompanied with pickled vegetables, cheese, and nuts. Select your ingredients and eat with flatbread.

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Photo by food52.com

Borani Esfenaj is another way to get your spinach. Walnuts and fried onions are chopped and combined with spinach in yoghurt for taste sensation like no other. An amazingly healthy vegetarian dish, it is served can be served with ‘sangak’, a whole wheat leavened flatbread.

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Photo by Familyrecipecentral

Joojeh Kabob is a typical, if such is possible, kebab dish, grilled skewers of vegetables with chicken that has been marinated in saffron and lime.

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Fesenjan is another dish normally for a special occasion, but with these ingredients, who can be blamed? This is a sweet and savoury stew of walnut, pomegranate, and most often, chicken or duck. Naming its main ingredients doesn’t do it justice.

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Kohresh Bademjan: This stew is one of many traditional Persian dishes that feature eggplants, or aubergines. This particular stew combines the flavour of eggplants with the tartness of limes or sour grapes. This can be made with meat or can go vegetarian.

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Photo by turmericsaffron

Persian desserts and sweets includes Faludeh, a dessert of thin noodles served cold with rosewater and lime juice; Tar Halva, a confection made of rice flour, cardamom and butter; and Shir Berenj, Persian rice pudding.

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Faludeh – Photo by Abouttimemagazine

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Tar Halva – Photo by persianmama

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Shir Berenj – Photo by afghankitchenrecipes

This barely scrapes the surface of the delights that can be found in Persian food. There’s the delights of the crispy crunch of Tahdig rice, the refreshment of the fruit or flower flavoured Sharbat drinks, the myriad variations to create a thick, luscious Aash soups. And so much more.

With the increased interest in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines because of reports on the health benefits of their traditional ingredients, and with the opening of Iran and the region to those who are unfamiliar with it, the joys of outrageously delicious Persian dishes will hopefully spread even further!

To find out more, you can start with (I don’t endorse any of these recipes, but I did use these sources to learn more):

http://www.cultureofiran.com/persian_cuisine.html

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2014/10/29/persian-food-primer-10-essential-iranian-dishes/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/persian-recipes-food-iranian_n_3504083.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/iranian-food-why-a-vibrant-cuisine-is-ripe-for-rediscovery-fesenjan-tahdig-ottolenghi-a6974246.html

http://persianmama.com/recipes-4/

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