Iran Traditional Food Recipes – “You can go to school in America,” my mother regularly told me and my siblings when we were children in our native San Diego in the 1980s, “but when you come home, you’re in Iran.” As a result we spoke Persian and went to Persian school on Saturdays to learn to read and write the language. We listen to classical Persian setar music; and celebrates Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
But definitely, the most powerful form of cultural immersion we experienced was culinary. My mother, who left Iran in 1976, instilled in us the smells, tastes and traditions of Persian food. He spent hours each week traveling not only San Diego, but also Orange County and Los Angeles, 100 miles away, in search of flavors reminiscent of Iran. He taught us to pass the news, home is home and nothing can get you there like taste.
Iran Traditional Food Recipes
In Irvine, he found a bakery that makes fresh sangak, a giant dimpled flatbread named after the pebble baked into the floor of the oven where the pieces of dough are baked. She put us all there on a weekend morning so we could each order a maximum of three per person, enough to justify the hour and a half trip for 12 loaves.
Persian New Year Recipes
He systematically bought and tested every brand of natural yogurt available in the supermarket, looking for the thickest and most sour yogurt. She regularly packed us into our blue pickup truck and drove us across town to an international grocery store, where she could choose from seven types of feta cheese and buy fresh herbs by the pound instead of by the bunch.
Every day, my mother would open a five-kilo bag of rice—always basmati—and divide a cup per person into a large bowl, soak it for hours before rinsing and briefly boiling it. Then began the hat necessary to make tahdig, the crispy rice crust against which every Persian meal is measured.
Sometimes I lined the bread pan with lavash. Other times, when a special trip for bread wasn’t possible, I used readily available flour tortillas, which produced equally amazing results. However, she shared and served the rice and tahdi, encouraging us kids to delay gratification and resist washing the deliciously crunchy crust first. I can never
Persian cuisine is about everything: flavor and taste, texture and temperature. In every meal, even in every dish, you will find both sweet and sour, soft and crunchy, cooked and raw, hot and cold. In the winter, we ate Khoresh-e Fesenjun, a hearty sweet and sour pomegranate and walnut stew to warm us up inside. In the summer, we peel eggplants for khoresh-e bademzun, a bright tomato and eggplant stew made with lemon juice and ghoreh or green grapes.
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No Persian meal is complete without an abundance of herbs. On every table is a basket of sabzi khordan, fresh herbs, radishes and chives, which are eaten raw and by the handful, often tucked into a slice of fresh flatbread with a dollop of feta cheese, cucumber or walnuts. I never got used to the practice, loving the amazing and versatile ways herbs find their way into a dish. Kuku sabzi, a sort of frittata, is so densely packed with finely chopped sauteed herbs that the ingredient list seems like a joke.
Throughout Iran, but especially in the northern regions where my family is from, herbs are treated as a main vegetable or ingredient rather than a side dish. In the Bay Area, where I live now, I can always see an Iranian food cart in the distance, with bunches of parsley, cilantro, dill, and mint.
Although I am Iranian and a chef, I am hardly an Iranian chef. I’m a big Iranian foodie, so when the Times asked me to pick dishes that incorporated Persian cuisine as staple recipes, I interviewed my mother, researched two dozen Iranian and Iranian-American chefs, and listed and compared the ingredients. techniques with almost every Persian cookbook published in English in the last 30 years.
Being Iranian-American—respecting, representing, and embodying two cultures that often feel at odds with one another—has always been an easy path for me. This project felt more meaningful and personal to me than any other recipe collection I’ve created.
The Ultimate Guide To Persian New Year Food: Nowruz Food 2022
I tried to share the taste of my childhood i.e. Iranian food in America. However, I often had to break my own heart when I chose to leave out much-loved dishes like bagali pollo (fava bean rice), tahchin (a delicious saffron rice cake and curd with chicken or lamb). khoresh-e beh (quince and lamb stew).
A word about terminology: For various personal, political, and historical reasons, many in the West refer to Iranians as Persians. “Persian” is an ethnicity and language, also known as Persian, while “Iranian” is a nationality. Not all Persians and Persian speakers are Iranian, and not all Iranians are Persian. If the distinction confuses you, rest assured that you’re not alone (I’ve spent most of my life confused by it), and for our purposes here, feel free to more or less interchange the terms.
Distilling an entire 2,000-year-old cuisine into a handful of recipes makes no sense, so think of this list as an invitation to cook more than a statement of fact. It is also an invitation to Iran, my childhood home and what my mother made for her children with rice, bread, cheese and herbs.
In an Iranian home, no dinner is complete without chicken and rice. And no empanada dish is complete without tahdig, the crispy crust whose name means “bottom of the dish.” Tahdig is a highlight of Persian cuisine, and can be made with rice, potatoes, salad or bread, here it is. As she fed me and my siblings every night, my mother described her grandfather’s remarkable patience: He always let his tahdig cook in his khoresh, or stew, so that it was soft, but not soggy. I can never wait and always eat it immediately. (See this recipe in NYT Cooking).
Modern Iranian Recipes Honor Persian Tradition
Kuku, which is similar to the Persian frittata, comes in many forms, but this one, filled with herbs, is my favorite. I especially love the kuku sabzi for its thick, sweet crust and fresh-tasting, vibrant green interior, which also has tangy barberry. Every bite is surprisingly flavorful and complex. Kuku is traditionally served with flat bread and a selection of crunchy and spicy spices to balance the sweetness of the herbs. My favorites are fresh radishes, sliced eggplant pickles called liteh, and chunks of mild, salty feta cheese. (See this recipe in NYT Cooking).
There are three essential ingredients in this khoresh, or stew, often called the national dish of Iran. First fenugreek leaves, either dried or fresh. The sweet and spicy taste of the herb defines the taste of the stew, which is not the same without it. Similarly, Oman limes (also known as dried Persian limes) add a distinctive aged acidity that is essential to the dish. Finally, the classic Persian technique of sautéing finely chopped herbs until thick and dry adds character and complexity to the base of the stew. (See this recipe in NYT Cooking).
Bademjoon, sometimes spelled bademjoon, is a typical summer dish in Iran, and it was my childhood favorite. Fresh lime juice and ghoreh, or raw grapes, lighten the stew and add a particularly tangy punch. These strong flavors contrast well with the soft, comforting texture of the eggplant and tomatoes, which become soft and silky as they cook. This dish is especially delicious with a slice of crispy tahdig. (See this recipe in NYT Cooking).
Fesenjun, or Fesenjan, comes from the mountains and coasts of northern Iran, where pomegranates and walnuts grow. The sweet and sour flavors of the pomegranate juice and jaggery, along with the silky texture that the nuts give the stew, make it one of the most beautiful dishes in Persian cuisine. I hated fasenjun as a child, but as a teenager it became my favorite dish. I asked my mother to prepare me non-stop. (See this recipe in NYT Cooking).
List Of Iranian Foods
To me, ash means the arrival of spring. This soup is served during the festival of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which usually falls on March 20. Two distinctly Persian ingredients define its flavor: reshteh, or flat noodles, are starchier and saltier than their Italian counterparts, and as they cook, the starch they release thickens the soup. Kashka, a form of dry yogurt or whey, is saltier and more acidic than Greek yogurt or sourdough.
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