From the first meal to the last, I think Iran was one of the top 3 food destinations I’ve ever visited; kebabs grilled over charcoal, delicious stews with fluffy, buttery rice, soups, side dishes, and the bread – oh my, the bread!!

Saffron and onions featured strongly in almost all the food we had there – I’m not sure I had anything apart from a desert that didn’t feature them (and even a lot of the deserts I tried had saffron in them). But that’s not to say that the food was same-y. Not at all. From the delicious char-grilled lamb, to chicken in pomegranate and walnut sauce, to aubergine noodle soup, the food was diverse and flavoursome.

Due to sanctions, a lack of relevant technology, expertise and funding, there is apparently not much in the way of pesticides in the food production and farming industries. So the weird upside of all that is that most of the food produced there is pesticide-free. Which means it’s even tastier than it looks.

Breakfast was an important meal – not only as the first meal of the day, but also as an important source of fresh fruit and vegetables. Tomato and cucumber were always served, as were a selection of fruits, alongside the eggs, lentils, beans, bread and various jams (carrot jam was the winner by far). I found as the fortnight went on, that I missed fresh foods more than I’d expected. Not that there’s a shortage of vegetables, but rather because those that there are – with the exception of kebabs, which came with the usual fresh salad accompaniments – are baked or stewed along with the meat and legumes. I came to look forward to piling my breakfast plate high with salad and fruit to set me up for the food-filled day ahead.

Bread should probably have its own post to be honest, but as one of the main reasons I was so excited about Iranian food, I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint!

There are four different types of bread – three of which we tried. ‘Sangak’ means ‘baked on little stones’ and is often eaten with kebabs or dizi (stew). The majority of the other bread we ate was of the lavash or taftoon types. We also saw this being made; rolled onto a pillow, and slapped to the side of a clay oven. Often we passed bread shops where we could see it being made right in front of us. Thanks to Mohsen – we got invited in to one of them to watch him mix the dough. Free samples straight out of the oven were also often handed to us… and of course it would have been so rude to refuse…

We tried some famous Tehran winter street food – sweet, hot beetroots (called ‘laboo’), arranged in size order on the stall – you pick your size, and the guy slices them for you and hands you them in a bowl with a cocktail stick. Street foods were also high on the list – Isfahan had the best Ash reshte (a thick noodle soup; ours was with aubergines), but Yazd won for falafel (spiced chick pea patties) and jigar (liver kebabs)…

There’s a lot to say about Iranian food, but it’s probably better represented in photos…

Written by peregrinology

Family of 3 (and 3 pets) traveling, sailing, and eating...

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