What is the first thing you think about when you think about Iranian food?
Based on a straw poll of my non-Iranian mates, not a lot. A fog normally descends across people’s faces as they furrow their brows in contemplation.
‘Umm, is it spicy like Indian food?” they ask. Nope. Iranians break out in sweats if you simply give a black pepper grinder an accidental extra twist.
“Is it like Lebanese food? Lots of mezze and hummus?” Not at all. It’s all about the Big Stews. Iranians don’t really do small dishes of anything. And they don’t eat hummus.
“Kebabs?” #Win. Iranians love their kebabs. My Grandad could eat kebabs every day (and I mean for breakfast, not just dinner).
All kinds of succulent cuts of tender lamb, beef, chicken and fish are marinated in lemony herbs, grilled to perfection, smothered in su’mac and served piled high on buttery, fluffy white rice.
But there is more to Iranian food then just kebabs. Much more. Iranian food is the stuff of fairy tales: velvety pistachio soups, saffron-infused rice dishes and sumptuous slow-cooked stews using unusual combinations of fruits such as pomegranates, plums and quinces with meat or fish. It is a cuisine known for its abundant use of fresh green herbs, sweet and sour flavours and delicate spices such as saffron, dried limes, su’mac and orange blossom.
Signature dishes include:
- Fesenjoon – Chicken poached in a rich creamy sauce of ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
- Mirzeh Ghasemi – Smokey roast aubergines, gently fried with tomatoes, garlic and eggs.
- Shirin Polo – Steamed rice jewelled with carrots, orange peel, pistachios and saffron.
It is time Iranian food got on the culinary map. This project is about sharing the secrets of one of the most exciting cuisines in world and taking you on a foodie adventure to unearth the treasure that is Iranian food.
Once you pop, you won’t be able to stop. I promise.