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Date Posted: 04:28:06 02/04/16 Thu
Author: robin
Subject: Iranian cuisine

Iranian cuisine or Persian cuisine (Persian: آشپزی ایرانی Ashpazi-ye Irani‎‎) is the traditional and modern style of cooking in Iran (formerly known as Persia).

Situated in West Asia (also known as the Middle East) with a diverse population, the Iranian culinary style is unique to Iran, though has historically both influenced and has been influenced by Iran's neighboring and conquered regions at various stages throughout its history. Specifically, these have been mutual culinary influences to and from Turkish cuisine, Azerbaijani cuisine, Kurdish cuisine, Caucasian cuisine, Mesopotamian cuisine, Levantine cuisine, Greek cuisine, Central Asian cuisine, and minor aspects from Russian cuisine.[1][2][3][4]

Turkish cuisine, Azerbaijani cuisine and Iranian cuisine on the other hand have heavy mutual influence on each other, due to geographical proximity, ethnic relations (f.e Azerbaijanis, a Turkic people,[5][6][7] are the second largest ethnicity in Iran) many common cultural aspects, shared empires, and conquerings by such as the Achaemenids, Sassanians, Seljuks, Safavids, Afsharids, Ottomans and Qajars.

Fresh green herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Typical Persian main dishes are combinations of rice with meat, such as lamb, chicken, or fish, and vegetables such as onions, various herbs, and nuts. To achieve a balanced taste, characteristic Persian flavorings such as saffron, dried lime, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes.

National cuisine

Iranian cuisine includes a wide variety of foods ranging from Chelow kabab (rice served with roasted meat: barg, koobideh, joojeh, shishleek, soltani, chenjeh), khoresh (stew that is served with white Iranian rice: ghormeh sabzi, gheimeh, fesenjān, and others), āsh (a thick soup: for example āsh-e anār), kuku (vegetable soufflé), polo (white rice served alone or with the addition of meat, vegetables and herbs, including loobia polo, albaloo polo, sabzi polo, zereshk polo, baghali polo, and others), and a diverse variety of salads, such as Shirazi salad, pastries, and drinks specific to different parts of Iran. The list of Persian recipes, appetizers and desserts is extensive. A famous Iranian dish with sheep brain and hooves is called Kaleh Pacheh

The usage of rice, at first a specialty of Safavid court cuisine, evolved by the end of the 16th century CE into a major branch of Iranian cookery.[20] Varieties of rice in Iran include champa, rasmi, anbarbu, mowlai, sadri, khanjari, shekari, doodi, and others. Traditionally, rice was most prevalent as a major staple item in the rice growing region of northern Iran, and the homes of the wealthy, while in the rest of the country bread was the dominant staple. The varieties of rice most valued in Persian cuisine are prized for their aroma, and grow in the north of Iran.

Fruits and vegetables
Iran's agriculture produces many fruits and vegetables. A bowl of fresh fruit is common on most Persian tables and dishes of vegetables and herbs are standard sides to most meals.

The climate of the Middle East is conducive to the growing of fruits. These are not only enjoyed fresh and ripe as desserts but are also combined with meats and form unusual accompaniments to main dishes. When fresh fruits are not available, a large variety of dried fruits such as dates, figs, apricots and peaches are used instead. The list of fresh fruits includes dates and figs, many citrus fruits, apricots, peaches, sweet and sour cherries, apples, plums, pears, pomegranates and many varieties of grapes and melons. A small sweet variety of cucumber is popularly served as a fruit. Iran is one of the top date producers in the world; some special date cultivars, such as Rotab, are grown in Iran.

While the eggplant (aubergine) is "the potato of Iran", Iranians are fond of fresh green salads dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a little garlic. Vegetables such as pumpkins, spinach, green beans, broad beans, courgettes, varieties of squashes, onions, garlic and carrots are commonly used in rice and meat dishes. Tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions often accompany a meal.

The term dolma describes any vegetable or fruit stuffed with rice or a rice-and-meat mixture: grape vine leaves, cabbage leaves, spinach, eggplant, sweet peppers, tomatoes, apples and quince. The most popular dolmas in Iran today are stuffed grape leaves, which are prepared by lightly parboiling the fresh leaves in salted water, then stuffing them with a mixture of ground meat, rice, chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, split peas, and seasoning. The dolmas are then simmered in a sweet-and-sour mixture of vinegar or lemon juice, sugar, and water. Fillings vary, however, from region to region and even from family to family. Stuffed cabbage and grape leaves are the only dolmas that can be served hot or cold. When intended to be served cold they generally do not contain meat, however. Fruit dolmas are probably a specialty of Persian cuisine. The fruit is first cooked, then stuffed with meat, seasonings, and sometimes tomato sauce; the dolmas are then simmered in meat broth or a sweet-and-sour sauce. In recent decades new variations have been introduced, largely under Western influence: Potatoes, artichokes, green peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetables are also stuffed.[21]

A few examples of the main ingredients in Iranian specialties would include duck, pomegranates and walnuts; lamb, prunes and cinnamon; spinach, orange and garlic. Khoresht Beh (quince stew) is an example of using fruits in Iranian cooking: chunks of lamb are stewed with slices or cubes of tart quince and yellow split peas; this dish is always served with rice.[22]

The above are only a few examples of the combination of meats and vegetables, or meats and fruits plus seasonings that may go into chelo khoresh, a favorite Iranian dish that is served at least once daily.[citation needed] This is a dish of crusty baked rice topped by one of the stews listed, or any one of dozens more, limited only by price and availability of ingredients.

Ab ghoreh, the juice of Ghoreh (unripe grapes) or Verjuice, is used in various Iranian dishes. For example, it is an ingredient in Ash e sagh, a soup prepared with spinach, leeks, yellow split peas, and seasonings. Ab ghoreh is also used to simmer dolma-ye Kadu, which is stuffed summer squash. Ab ghoreh flavors several types of Khoresh like Khoresht-e Alu Esfenaj (stewed lamb with spinach and prunes), Khoresht-e Havij (stewed lamb with carrots), and Khoresht-e Chaghaleh badam (stewed lamb with fresh, unripe almonds). Unripe grapes are used whole in some dishes, such as Khoresht-e ghoreh (lamb stew with sour grapes). Ab ghoreh was frequently used until not too long ago also as a souring agent for a number of pickles, dried pickles, and spices. As a spice, Ghoreh powder (gard-e Ghoreh) was sometimes reinforced by Ab ghoreh and then dried.

Drinks and desserts
The traditional drink accompanying Iranian dishes is doogh, a combination of yogurt, carbonated or plain water, salt, and dried mint. Other drinks include sherbets known as Sharbat and "Khak shir". 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 are not served with meals. These include Sheer Moz (banana milk shake), Aab Talebi (cantaloupe juice), and Aab Hendevaneh (watermelon juice). These are commonly made in stands or kiosks in street corners on summer days and on hiking trails. Aab Anaar (pomegranate juice) is also popular and has recently (2007) become popular in North America. Sekanjebin is a thick syrup made from vinegar, mint and sugar, served mixed with carbonated or plain water. It can be drunk mixed with a little rose water or used as a dip for Romaine lettuce.

Dessert dishes range from Bastani-e Za'farāni (Persian ice cream, also called Bastani-e Akbar-Mashti or Gol-o Bolbol) to faludeh (a frozen sorbet made with thin starch noodles and rose water). Persian ice cream is flavored with saffron, rose water, and includes chunks of heavy cream. There are also many types of sweets, divided into two categories: Shirini Tar (lit. moist pastry) and Shirini Khoshk (lit. dry pastry). 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 saffron, pistachios, and walnuts. The second category consists of more traditional Iranian sweets: Shirini-e Berenji (a type of rice cookie), Shirini-e Nokhodchi (clover-shaped chickpea flour cookies), Kolouche (a large cookie usually with a walnut or fig filling), Shirini-e Keshmeshi (raisin and saffron cookies), Shirini-e Yazdi (small cakes originating from the city of Yazd), Nan-e kulukhi (a kind of large thick cookie without any filling), and others.

Other popular sweets include Zulbia, Bamieh and Gush-e Fil. Bamieh is an oval-shaped piece of sweet dough, deep-fried, and then covered with a syrup traditionally made from honey. Bamieh is similar to tulumba, but much smaller, 2 or 3 centimeters wide at most. Zulubia is made of the same sort of batter, also deep-fried, but poured into the oil in swirls, then covered with the same syrup (or with honey).[24] Goosh-e Fil (lit. elephant's ear) is also made of deep-fried dough, in the shape of a flat elephant's ear, and then covered with powdered sugar and topped with pistachios. One of the classics, Halvardeh (Tehrani for halvā-arde, from halvā, an Arabic loan word meaning 'sweet', plus arde, the Persian word for tāhini), comes in various qualities and varieties, from mainly sugar to sesame seed paste (the aforementioned Persian arde) and pistachios.

Noghl, sugar-coated almonds, are often served at Iranian weddings.
Essential accompaniments

There are certain accompaniments (mokhallafât) that are essential to every Iranian lunch (nâhâr) and dinner (shâm), regardless of the region. These include a plate of fresh herbs, called sabzi khordan: basil, cilantro, coriander, fenugreek, green onion, mint, radish (black, red, white), savory (marzeh, origany or sweet fennel), tarragon, and Persian watercress (shâhi); or a variety of flat breads, called nân or noon (sangak, lavâsh, barbari), fresh white cheese (panir, somewhat similar to feta), walnuts, sliced and peeled cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and onions, yogurt, and lemon juice. Persian gherkins (khiyarshur) and mixed pickles (Torshi) are also considered essential in most regions.

Tea (chai) is served at breakfast. It may be served at other times, based on the region, usually many times throughout the day. For example, in the province of Khorasan, it is served immediately before and after lunch and dinner. The traditional methods of tea preparation and drinking differ between regions and peoples.

Fish is considered the first source of animal protein along the southern and northern coasts of the country, but it is not much eaten in the rest of Iran (mainly in smoked form)(Mahi-Dodi). Fish is traditionally served with rice and fresh herbs (Sabzi polow) on the first day of the new year (Norooz) at the end of the zodiacal month of Pisces.[25]

Along the Caspian Sea coasts in Northern Iran, a popular dish is Shoor-mahi (salty fish), heavily salted fish steamed on a bed of smothered rice (kateh). Although the residents of these areas eat all kinds of fish, the most popular are species of sturgeon (Ozun bouroon), trout (Qezel ala), Caspian Kutum (mahi-e safid), salmon (mahi-e Azad), shad (kapoor). All parts of the fish, from the roe and intestines to the head, are used in cooking. Particularly popular in Māzandarān is a large, stuffed whitefish, similar to striped bass, baked and served with herbed rice; the stuffing usually consists of garlic, parsley, tarragon, scallions, coriander, mint, ground walnuts, barberries, raisins, lime juice, and salt and pepper, all sautéed in butter or oil.[25]

In southern Iran along the Persian Gulf, the saltwater species are used : grouper (Hamoor), croaker (mahi-e Shoorideh), sole (mahi-e Halwa), Red snapper (mahi-e Sorkhoo), Grunt (mahi-e Sangsar), Flounder (kaf-e dast mahi), and mackerel (Shir mahi). Influences from far afield using tamarind and curry powder, combined with local ingredients including fresh herbs, fenugreek, and garlic, lend a distinctive character to these southern fish dishes

Northern Iran
Kateh is the traditional dish of Northern Iran (provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan) and is simply Persian rice cooked in water, butter and salt until the water is fully absorbed. This method results in rice that is clumped together and is the predominant style of cooking rice in the Caspian region. In Gilan, Golestan and Mazandaran, kateh is also eaten as a breakfast meal, either heated with milk and jam, or cold with Persian cheese (panir) and garlic. Kateh is commonly eaten in other parts of Iran because of its short cooking time and easy preparation, and is prescribed widely as a natural remedy for those who are sick with the common cold or flu, and also for those suffering from stomach pains and ulcers. Some of the foods like Chegdermeh are only used in the Turkmen region of Golestan Province, but many other dishes are used in all parts of Iran.

Iranian caviar and Caspian fish roes hails from that region, and is served with eggs, in frittatas (Kuku sabzi) or omelettes. The cuisine of this region has the most affinity with other cuisines of the wider Caucasus region. (see Caucasian cuisine)

Northern Iran is home to the most numerous list of recipes compared to other regions. The most favorite dishes of this region are:

Akbar Jujeh (Joojeh Talayi - chicken with pomegranate sauce)
Qezel Ala ba berenj
Alu Mosema
Morghe alu pahlu
Anar Bij
Kak (kind of bread)
Jaghur Baghur
Ash-e Fatima Zahra
Ash-e Shalqam
Ash-e Shir
Ash-e Torsh
Ash-e Shole Qalamkar
Badenjan Torshi (pickled eggplants)
Baqala bij
Baqala Qatoq
Dalar (a Meze)
Felfel Torshi (pickled piments)
Halvaye Raqayeb
Kabab torsh
Khali Ash
Shekam Por Mazandaran
Mashli Ash
Sham Goosht
Bademjan Khorosh

Khalou Abeh
Kolucheh Fuman
Kolucheh Lahijan
Kuku Eshpel (Kuku made of Roe)
Kuku gerdu (walnut kuku)
Kuku bademjan
Qatnarme/Qatname (kind of bread)
Pambli Chorag (kind of bread)
Mahi Dudi
Mahi Fibij
Mast o Khiar (a Meze)
Mirza Ghassemi
Morabaye Badrang
Morabaye Bahar Narenj (Orange blossom jam)
Morabaye Gol Mohammadi
Morabaye Kadu
Morabaye Shaqayeq
Morabaye Velesh
Morabaye Zoqal Akhteh
Morq-e Torsh
Naz Khatun
Shekam Por
Suluf Khorosh
Keshmesh Polow

Piyaz Torshi (pickled onions)
Reshteh Khoshkar
Robb e Narenj
Robb e Anar (Pomegranate molasses)
Robb e Sir Torsh
Shah Kuku
Shami-e Rashti (Rashti Shami Kebab)
Shirin Tareh
Shur Mahi
Sir Anar
Sir Qaliyeh
Sir Torshi (pickled garlic)
Spinach thick soup (Ash-e Esfenadj)
Torsh Shami (Sour Shami Kebab)
Torsh Tareh
Turshu Chorag (kind of bread)
Shirini Panjare'i
Katte Kababi
Qatma Qarma
Yaralmasi Torshi
Zeytun Parvardeh (a Meze, with Persian Olives, Pomegranates and Walnuts)
Mahi Koko
Shami (Amol)

The Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan provinces variety of rice is considered one of the best in Iran, where it has been in use since the fourth century BCE.

Eating fresh raw broad beans is common in Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan provinces, either alone or with cooled Kateh and salted fish eggs (Ashpel); but selling and enjoying (especially by people of the lower classes) of hot cooked broad beans (bāqelā-garmak) sprinkled with salt and powdered Persian marjoram (golpar) are not an uncommon street scene in cold weather almost everywhere in Iran. The Gilani dish Baqali Qatoq is cooked with dill, garlic, and turmeric, into which eggs are emptied at the end.[26]

Seafood is the most important part of Khuzestani cuisine, but many other dishes are also featured. The most popular Khuzestani dish is Ghalieh Mahi, a popular fish dish that is prepared with heavy spices, onions and cilantro. One of the fish used for grilled fish is locally known as mahi soboor (shad fish), a species of fish found in the Arvand river (Arvand rood). Other provincial specialties include Ghalieh Meygu ("shrimp stew"), ashe-mohshala (a Khorramshahri breakfast stew), sćr shir (a Dezfuli breakfast of heavy cream), hćlim (a Shushtari breakfast of wheatmeal with shredded lamb), and kohbbeh (a deep-fried rice cake with ground beef filling and other spices of Arabic origin, a variant on Levantine kibbeh)

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