Persian food, one of the world’s greatest gastronomies and growing in popularity in this part of the world with Persian restaurants springing up all around us.
At the height of the Persian Empire the cuisine flourished through modern day countries including Iran, Iraq, Macedonia, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and parts of Central Asia.
The dishes we find today are vibrant, diverse, highly defined and stem from complex culinary skills. Packed full of flavour from the exotic ingredients used in the cooking. It’s not uncommon to include flowers and herbs like mint, rose petals and fenugreek; gorgeous spices such as saffron, cardamom and sumac; fruits, citrus and nuts from pomegranate to almonds and pistachios!
Cooking styles have been influenced down the years by ancient Greece, Rome and a mixture of Asian and Mediterranean cultures to create a very unique culinary experience. Spices, styles and recipes have also been shared back and forth with India so there are some similarities between the two cuisines.
With such a wide range of different recipes and flavours to pick from it’s very hard to narrow down to our favourite but we’ve picked out five options that are certainly up there with the best……
Probably the most well-known chicken dish in Iran is Joojeh Kebab and it features on the menu in nearly every Persian restaurant for good reason. Joojeh Kebabs are often served at weddings and parties.
Traditionally cooked using chicken that’s grilled over a coal barbecue to perfection. The chicken remains succulent and tender and smothered in a mouth-watering lemon and saffron marinade to create wonderful blend of flavours.
Shami Kebab Burger
A Shami kebab burger is a meat and legume patty. If you like your burgers, make sure to give these a try! Shami can be made using ground beef, lamb, chicken or entirely vegetarian if you like. Often spices like cinnamon, paprika, turmeric and saffron are added by the chef.
When all the ingredients are mixed, the burgers will be rolled in flour, egg yolk and dried breadcrumbs to add a bit of crunch they fried to perfection!
Served with fresh nan and a dollop of yogurt.
Fesenjan – Persian Pomegranate Walnut Stew
Fesenjan is served at nearly every formal occasion. Essentially a Persian chicken stew made with chicken breasts or thighs, slowly cooked with ground toasted walnuts, onions and pomegranate molasses.
The ground walnuts, pomegranate and onions are slowly simmered making a thick sauce and a touch of cinnamon, saffron and sugar are added. The chicken is slow cooked, and the sauce is spectacular. Tasty enough to lick the bowl when you’re finished!
Tahdig – Crunchy Fried Rice
Tahdig is the crisp, golden layer of fried rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot after cooking. Getting the perfect tahdig can take plenty of practice and considered one of the most challenging techniques in Persian cooking.
When cooked properly it resembles a caramelised disk that can be served whole or broken into smaller pieces.
The basic idea is that you put extra cooking oils at the base of the rice pot and the bottom layers gets pan-fried while the rice above is steamed as normal. There are a few different approaches and if you get the opportunity to sample the real deal don’t let it pass you by.
A light salad and a gorgeous accompaniment to any many course. Ingredients tend to be simple and clean making it blend well with meat stew or rice dishes. Primarily cucumber, tomato, onion, olive oil and lemon juice are used.
Let’s Get Cooking
Interested in introducing some new Persian food to your range? Get in touch with our chefs and we can work together to find the perfect recipes!