Persian Pomegranate Chicken and other Fantastic Foods of Iran
Salaam! I hope you are hungry and open to some new ideas in the world of International Eating . I will share with you some recipes , photos and food adventure stories from Iran. Included at the end of this article you can click on other fantastic food blogs from around the globe.
This posting is the first of a series of blogs about foods of other nations. There is so much to be learned from other cultures especially when it comes to their indigenous diets. Why not take a culinary journey into other nations and give your taste buds something new to experience? Every place on the planet has it’s own take on how to prepare food . The unique use and blending of ingredients that each region of the world creates, makes it so distinct from others. If you have the opportunity, I would encourage you to take your self and family to all the different International restaurants in your community. And I don’t mean Taco Bell or Papa Johns! Explore your nearest city to seek out the most authentic establishments from many different ethnic choices. When we are out in town and meet people from other nations, I will ask them where their favorite place to eat is and take their advice. Another good idea is to attend all of the food festivals that most cities offer. It’s usually the best of those nations foods because it’s coming from their own original and traditional recipes. We have taken our kids to the festivals of Greece, Lebanon, Italy, Iran, Israel, France, Poland, Hungary and Mexico. And of course, most of the United States has it’s own distinctly different taste and take on typical American foods.
Nothing can be more authentic though than actually being in each country to sample their foods!
I have chosen to start the food blog series with Iran.
Being that I had lived in Iran for 3 years and loved the foods there, I will share some recipes that I have experienced and totally enjoyed. If you would like to see interesting foods and recipes from other nations, please read the blogs at the end of this post.
Fresh ingredients and savory exotic spices are the staples of Iranian cuisine.
Persians ( the original name for Iranians) are known for their hospitality and love of carefully preparing foods. Most all of the ingredients they use must be fresh. The ancient Bazaar sells most of what they need within the labyrinth of it’s mysterious corridors. Barrels of fresh spices including sumac and saffron, lamb and chicken hanging from hooks, burlap bags of rice from Northern Iran, wonderfully cheap pistachio and cashew nuts , soured yogurt drinks to soothe digestion and thirst,stacks of pomegranates and spreads of dates, figs, oranges, lemons and persimmons. Amongst the sounds of clanking of silver and bronze plates being crafted by artisans and the enticing aroma of grilled lamb kebabs, the shopper will find all they need for an authentic Middle Eastern feast. As an American teenager living in Iran in the mid 1970’s, this was a place of foreign strangeness and awe . The foods that we learned about and came to love and the experiences we had in Iran have made an impact on my life ever since.
Rice ( Chelo) is the foundation
This is not the sticky type .. fluffy, nutty and comforting is the way of rice in Persian cuisine. Out of a cookbook from 1970’s Iran ( the American Woman’s Club), the recipe for rice is stated: “If you have any aspirations at all about cooking in the Persian manner, the very first thing you must do is learn to prepare a good pot of rice. This is the backbone of the Persian diet and quite a tricky job for the novice cook”. The Iranians are connoisseurs of the art of rice preparation. One of the most popular methods of cooking the rice is by browning the bottom of it in butter so that it comes out crispy. This delicious crunchy bottom is a delicacy to all Iranians.
Chelo Kebab Kubideh and Ashe ( soup)
For Kubudeh, ground lamb mixed with crushed onion and a multiple of spices gets formed around a flat skewer to be roasted. So tender and delicious! One of my favorites. This is the grilled meat you will see and smell on the streets and in the bazaar. Usually it is served with saffron rice and roasted tomato’s and onions. On the side is the delicious khoreshe (sauce ) made with yogurt ( mast) cucumbers and dill. Ashe ( soup ) comes in many creative ways and its’ like no other you have tasted! Persian cuisine is really quite healthy. No fast foods or preservatives are in the traditional diet.
Pomegranates and Pistachios
Fruits and nuts are incorporated in to much of the meals in the Persian diet. Such an interesting flavor this gives to meats , sauces and rice. One of my favorites is Chicken Fessenjan, a unique blend of chicken stock, pomegranate syrup and crushed walnuts makes up the sauce that is poured over chicken and rice. There is even an amazing soup ( ashe) made with pomegranates. Pistachio nuts are mixed into desserts and savory dishes alike. Here is a great website for authentic Persian recipes : My Persian Kitchen — Discover, Learn, & Cook Persian Cuisine.Kookoo Sabzi and Barbari Bread
A fire in a pit in the ground, flat unleavened bread hanging on hooks waiting to be smothered in butter. This is such delicious bread and is served with most Iranian meals. A few times we have encountered bits of pebbles as we enjoyed this bread that is called “Noon” in Farsi. The combination of fresh greens baked with eggs like an omelet is called Kukuye Sabzi. It’s a favorite of all Persians. During Now Ruz ( the ancient Persian new Year that occurs in the beginning of spring), sabzi is always served. The Iranians celebrate by going out on a picnic and bringing along a tray of newly grown grass greens to be released into a river.
Tea and Baklava
All hospitable Iranians, from the poorest villages to the intricate mosaic tiled palaces will not be with out the sharing of tea. This aromatic tea from the northern mountainous regions of Iran is usually served from a Samovar ( large ornate tea decanter). It is poured into small clear glasses and taken with sugar cubes held between the front teeth. Baklava and Gaz ( nougat candy made with rose water and pistachios) are favorite dessert treats to have with tea. Commonly you will be seated on a hand woven Persian carpet with a hand stamped decorative tablecloth to enjoy your meal and tea. While visiting a remote village south of Isfahan, we sat on pillows and were served a goats head filled with yogurt and greens!! For more on our Iranian adventure, read my recent blog “I Ran from Iran “. I Ran From Iran I have great memories of Iran and so appreciate the opportunity of living there.
Please consider trying these foods of the world!
If any Iranians read this post, please feel free to correct me. I am sharing from my experiences in Iran, but any one can comment and contribute to this post.
Nooshe Jaan , Bon Apetite, Enjoy Your Meal !
Finding My Way to Fabulous (and Freaky) Food by Keryn at Walkingon Travels (twitter @walkingontravel)
Food from Guatemala – Marina K. Villatoro
Magical Easy-To-Make Israeli Madbukah
Traditional Dishes of Peru – Lainie Liberti of Raising Miro – http://www.raisingmiro.com/2012/04/25/8-traditional-dishes-of-peru/
Alloco (from West Africa) – Lauren Fisher http://www.sparklingadventures.com/index.php?id=1549
My crêpes recipe (from France) – Tiphanya – http://avenue-reine-mathilde.over-blog.com/article-my-crepes-recipe-or-my-special-thanks-when-i-travel-102910041.html
Starting our Days with Turkish Breakfast – http://www.minordiversion.com/2012/04/starting-our-days-with-turkish-breakfast
Gallo Pinto, Costa Rica’s signature dish – by Susan of Family Travel Bucket List
Taking the Kids to Yakitori Alley in Tokyo Japan-by Kristy Harris of Vagabond Kids
- I Ran From Iran (growingracelife.wordpress.com)
- I Ran from Iran ( part II ) (growingracelife.wordpress.com)