My Top 10 Food Surprises in Iran

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Arva Ahmed

The more I have tasted the melting meats, fragrant pilafs, slow-simmered stews and sweet-savoury expanse of flavours expertly navigated by authentic Iranian restaurants in Dubai, the more I have longed to visit. I finally embarked on my first small journey to Iran last week (thanks to Jason Rezaian, Tehran correspondent for the US-based Washington Post). One would hope that this 8-day trip would have quenched my burning thirst to learn more about the cuisine – but far from it. My visit has only fired up new questions, new desires and an even greater hunger to learn, one that will take many more trips to sate.

It must be known that a cuisine as ancient, rich and nuanced as Iranian food is one that varies as profoundly as the climate and terrain of the country – you can wrap up warmly near the Alborz mountains, wipe your sweaty forehead near arid desert ground and have an Arabian Nights moment in shaded lush gardens, all in one week. And I did. The best way to eat through the intricacies borne of such diversity is not in restaurants, but in the homes.

Parking yourself in someone’s home is not as easy of an endeavour unless you peel yourself away from the inspiring and maddening array of monuments, pitch yourself in a city for a decent enough amount of time and interact with the unbelievably hospitable people. When we finally slowed down to connect with a couple who was just gushing to take us home in Shiraz, it was time to fly back to Dubai. This is one of the many reasons why I must return to Iran.

Nevertheless, despite being limited to the restaurants in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz and not covering even 1% of the flavours to be experienced, I am grateful for the mouth-watering food insights that came my way. And even though I have tasted and researched a fair amount about Iranian cuisine in the past, there were still surprises to be had. Here are the top ten food surprises – a disorderly mix of foods, observations, reflections – that I digested across three of the most well-known cities of Iran:

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Links For Further Reading:

*Nowruz Sweets & Dishes:

*Abgoosht: One of the Most Traditional Foods of Iran:

*Chelo-Kabab: The National Dish of Iran:

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم