Food in Iran is a fundamental part of Iranian heritage. Their ingredients reflect the geography of Iran, while the savor and colors accent the aesthetic taste of Iranians. It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations about cooking in Persia, given the diverse climates. agricultural products, and ethnic traditions of the country. Nevertheless, many dishes are common to all parts of the country and are prepared in generally similar ways, with minor regional and individual variations. The cuisines are associated with so many social events - births. weddings, funerals; and many other ceremonies and rituals that culinary
traditions are intertwined with a country's history and religion.
Persian cuisine is ancient, varied and cosmopolitan. Eating habits and products from ancient Greece, Rome and many Asian and Mediterranean cultures have influenced and are affected by this unique cuisine. It has borrowed spices, styles and recipes from India and has in turn influenced Indian food. There are many dishes that are shared by both Iranians and Turks to the extent that it is hard to say who has borrowed what and from where. The archives at the major ancient Persian cities contain names of many food products, ingredients, beverages, herbs, and spices. Basil, mint, cumin, cloves, saffron and coriander were traded along with olive all over the ancient trade routes. The Parthian and the Sassanian records mention walnut, pistachio, pomegranate, cucumber, broad bean, pea and sesame in their trade records.
Iranians believed that disease was caused by fundamental imbalance in the body between certain opposed qualities, such as heat and cold (sard/gami), or wetness and dryness (tari-khoshki). The physicians proposed that health resulted from the equal influence of four bodily "humors" that was analogous to the four elements of the physics (earth.water air and fire). Food became an important factor instrumental in maintaining the body's balance. The ideas of cold and hot foods are still believed by many Iranians and in planning for meals such considerations will be paid attention to.
From region to region, the classifications may vary. In general, animal fat, poultry, wheat, sugar, some fresh fruits and vegetables, and all dried vegetables and fruits are considered as hot. Most beef, fish, rice, dairy products, fresh vegetables and fruits are considered as cold. In planning for meals people's nature, season or illness, will be considered and cold or hot or a combination of the two foods will be produced. For instance, walnut, a hot food is usually combined in a dish that includes pomegranate, a cold food, to make the dish balanced and delicious. Or a variety of pickles are consumed when eating fatty or fried foods to
neutralize the effect of too much fat. Women have had a great influence in the history of cooking in Iran. The best chefs were and still are women. From the palaces of the Persian kings to the average housewife, women have had fabulous skills preparing exquisite cuisine. Iranians regard most foods at restaurants, as second-class and homemade food is precious and more appreciated. Even for weddings and major parties when catering services are used, the food is expected to be the same quality as the best homemade food.
Major ingredients of Modern Persian Cooking
A major determinant of Persian, or any other cuisine is the specific agricultural products that are readily available. Most of the grains, vegetables, and fruits consumed in Persia today have been cultivated there for many centuries, with the exception of tomatoes and potatoes, which are relatively recent introductions.
Rice and wheat are the grains used most widely. The cultivation of rice is said to have originated in India and to have been introduced to Persia more than a millennium ago, though the precise period is a matter of debate. Over the centuries it has become a staple of the Persian diet, served with every conceivable combination of meats, vegetables, and fruits mixed into it, ladled over it, or presented as side dishes. Rice is the main ingredient in several categories of dishes, the names of which indicate the particular method of preparation, for example, pollow (Steamed rice layered with other ingredients, mostly vegetables), chelow SE" and kata (rice boiled quickly until all the water is RONA. Traditionally, rice was most prevalent as a major staple item in northern Iran, while in the rest of the country wheat bread was the dominant staple. Wheat is a basic ingredient in a variety of dishes, both as a whole grain (e.g. in the kinds of thick Soup known as ash) and as flour (e.g., in halwa). There are four major Iranian flat breads:
Nan-e barbari: thick and oval-shaped. Nan-e lavash: thin, crispy and round or oval, and is also the oldest known bread in the Middle East and Central Asia. Nan-e sangak: Triangle-shaped bread that is stone-baked. Nan-e taftoon: Thin, but thicker than Lavash, soft and round.
Vegetables and herbs grow abundantly in Persia. They are the major ingredients in many khoreshes (stews or sauces) served atop chellows or mixed into pollows. A distinguishing feature of Persian cuisine is the use of fruits in cooking, aside from jams and preserves. Apples, quinces, prunes (both ripe and unripe, fresh or dried), sour grapes, tart cherries, apricots, fresh and dried limes, and oranges are used in khoreshes, pollows, ashes, and other dishes. The inclusion of nuts, raw or cooked, is also characteristic; they are common in pollows, khoreshes, ashes, meat patties, confections, and many other dishes. The most popular nuts are walnuts, almonds, and pistachios, all of which can be used whole, chopped, or ground. Roasted chickpeas are considered nuts and are generally used in ground form. Iran has terrific agriculture, producing many fruits and vegetables, especially what a lot of countries considered "exotic' are easier to come by. A bowl full of fruit is common on most Persian tables and dishes of vegetables and herbs are standard sides to most meals. Iran is also one of the top date producers in the world; some of the most succulent dates come from there.
While the climate of the Middle East is conducive to the growing of fruits, the orchards and vineyards of Iran produce fruits of legendary flavor and size. These are not only enjoyed fresh and ripe as desserts but are also imaginatively combined with meats and form unusual accompaniments to main dishes. When fresh fruits are not available, a large variety of excellent dried fruits such as dates, figs, apricots and peaches are used instead. The list of fruits includes fresh dates and fresh figs and Many citrus fruits: apricots, peaches, sweet and sour cherries Apple plums, pears, pomegranates and many varieties of grapes and melons.
The traditional drink accompanying Iranian dishes is called doogh” Doogh is a combination of yogurt, water (or soda) and dried mint. Other drinks are several types of especially prepared sherbets such as “khak sheer. One favorite is Aab-e Havij, alternately called "havij bastani carrot juice made into an ice cream float and garnished with cinnamon. nutmeg or other spices. There are also drinks that aren't served with meals. These are 'Sheer Moz (banana milk shake), Aab Talebi (cantaloupe juice), and Aab Hendevaneh (watermelon juice), These drinks are commonly made in stands or kiosks in streets on summer days and on hiking trails.
There are many dessert dishes, ranging from Bastani-e Za'farani (Persian Ice Cream with saffron) to the Faludeh, a sort of frozen sorbet made with thin starch noodles and rose water. Persian Ice Cream is flavored with saffron, rosewater, and chunks of heavy cream. There are also many types of sweets. The sweets divide into two categories: "Shirini Tar" (lit. moist sweets) and "Shirini Khoshk" (lit, dry sweets). The first category consists of French-inspired pastries with heavy whole milk whipped cream, glazed fruit toppings, tarts, custard-filled éclairs, and a variety of cakes. Some have an Iranian twist, such as the addition of pistachio, saffron, and walnuts. The second category consists of more traditional sweets: Shirini-e Berenji (a type of rice cookie), Shirini-e Nokhodchi (clover shaped, chickpea cookies), Kolouche (a large cookie usually with a walnut or fig filling), Shirini-e Keshmeshi (raisin and saffron cookies), Shirini-e Yazdi (muffins or cupcakes, originated in the city of Yazd), Nan-e kulukhi (a kind of large and thick cookie similar to clod inside without any filling), and more.
Three others - Zulbia, Bamieh and Gush-e Fil are very popular too. Bamieh is an oval-shaped sweet dough piece, deep fried and then covered with syrup (traditionally with honey). Zulbia is the same sort of dough, also deep-fried, but it is poured into the oil so that it twirls, then covered with the same syrup (or honey). It has become popular in other parts of the world, and is known as funnel cake in North America, and Jalebi in India. Goosh-e Fil (lit. Elephant's ear) is also deep-fried dough, fried in the shape of a flat elephant's ear and then covered with sugar powder. Of course, no discussion of Persian desserts would be complete without one of the classics, Halvardeh. Halva comes in Various qualities and varieties, from mainly sugar, to Sesame seed extract, with pistachio, and Iran produces some of the best.
There are certain accompaniments (mokhalafat) which are essential to every Iranian meal, regardless of the region. These include, first and foremost, a plate of fresh herbs, called sabzi (basil, cilantro, fenugreek, tarragon, Persian watercress or shahi), a variety of flat breads - sangak, lavash, and barbari, cheese, sliced and peeled cucumbers, Sliced tomatoes and onions, yoghurt, and lemon juice. Persian gherkins (khiyar shoor) and pickles (torshi) are also considered essential in most regions. Tea is served at breakfast. At other times it is served based on the region, usually many times throughout the day.
Such dairy products as yogurt, ghee, butter, and kashk (a kind of dried cheese) also play a major role in the Persian diet. The main type of oil used in traditional cooking is ghee, and there are a number of dishes that contain yogurt or kashk. Yogurt in particular is served plain as a side dish or mixed with cucumber, raisins, nuts, green herbs, and vegetables in dishes known as burani or mast o Khiar (yogurt and cucumber).
The meats eaten most often are mutton or lamb and chicken, less common are fish, beef, veal, and wild game. Meats are combined with vegetables and fruits in a variety of cooked dishes. The meat has to be slaughtered in a certain way according to religious prescription called Halal. Halal means permitted and in foreign countries is normally referred to shops selling meat slaughtered according to the Islamic prescribed codes.