Iranian cuisine

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Iranian cuisine is distinctive, but relatively little known in the West. It does have similarities to some of its neighbors, but some unusual combinations and preparations. Some argue that some Persian rice dishes are the greatest things done to that grain.

Appetizers are a specialty and one can graze through a light meal of nothing else. One of the first surprises of the cuisine is to be served large piles of culinary herbs, such as mint, tarragon, and basil, sprinkled with cheese and nuts, which can either be eaten as a salad or wrapped in a flatbread (lavash). There are many kinds of pickles.[1]


The simplest entrees are skewered grilled meat, sometimes with vegetables, served on rice flavored with saffron and yogurt. Stews (khoresh) are common; the Iranians make considerable use of fruits and nuts in their stews and other main dishes.

One national specialty, with variants claimed by Kurds and Iraqis, is chicken in walnut and pomegranate sauce, called khoresh-e-fesanjan, or simply fesanjan.


There are two basic kinds of rice preparation, chelo and polo . Chelo is the name applied to white rice that is steamed until fluffy, and served with meats and saued on top. and over which different types of sauces or meats are served. Polo, often called pilaf in the West, has the ingredients cooked with the rice. [2]

When rice is baked in an oiled pan, a delicious crispy crust forms. Usually, there is just a bit of crust for which diners eagerly grab, but it is possible to scrape and stir so you have an entire pan of crispy rice.

Biryanis, polo entrees, originated in Persia and migrated to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, not the reverse. Not surprisingly, they have also made their way to New York City, where there is a street vendor with a website, showing his biryanis on bread; he identifies as Indian. [3]



One traditional yet surprising dessert is a plate of chilled tangerine and cucumber pieces.


  1. C. Christine Fair (2008), Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations, The Lyons Press, ISBN 1599212862, pp. 39-40
  2. Polo and Chelo, (Rice), IranTour
  3. Biryani Cart/Sandwich Cafe: 46th and 6th Avenue, Midtown New York