Iranian cuisine, also widely referred to as Persian cuisine, includes the foods, cooking methods, and food traditions of Iran. Take a look at Iran’s place on the map and it’s easy to understand why the scope of native foods is so wide. Once the center of the Persian Empire, Iran neighbors the former Soviet Union countries, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab states and Turkey.
Although Iran is part of the Middle East, it has close ties to Europe, the Far East and Africa, owing to its central place on the Silk Road trade route.The food of Iran, its history stretching back centuries and impressing itself on other cuisines across the globe (“Mughal” cuisine, served in so many Indian restaurants, is derivative of Persian cooking), is so much more textured than hearty kebabs and fluffy pilafs.Iranian cuisine is gaining popularity in multicultural cities such as London, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, and Toronto, which have significant Iranian populations. Los Angeles and its environs, in particular, are well known for the number and quality of Iranian restaurants, which are usually centered around kebab, but also serve various Iranian stews and other traditional dishes.
Iranians pride themselves on their skill in preparation of rice, and there are a vast number of varieties of two common dishes, polo and chelo. Polo consists of vegetables or meat cooked and mixed with rice, whereas chelo is prepared over the course of many hours with crustier rice topped with sauces.
at first a specialty of Safavid Empire‘s court cuisine, evolved by the end of the 16th century CE into a major branch of Iranian cookery. Traditionally, rice was most prevalent as a major staple item in northern Iran and the homes of the wealthy, while bread was the dominant staple in the rest of the country.
Varieties of rice in Iran include gerde, domsia, champa, doodi (smoked rice), Lenjan (from Lenjan County), Tarom (from Tarom County), anbarbu, and others.The following table includes three primary methods of cooking rice in Iran.
Chelow is plain rice served as an accompaniment to a stew or kebab, while polow is rice mixed with something. They are, however, cooked in the same way. Rice is prepared by soaking in salted water and then boiling it. The parboiled rice (called chelow) is drained and returned to the pot to be steamed. This method results in an exceptionally fluffy rice with the rice grains separated and not sticky. A golden rice crust, called tadig, is created at the bottom of the pot. Tadig is served plain, with thin bread or slices of potato. Meat, vegetables, nuts and fruits are sometimes added in layers or completely mixed with the chelow and then steamed. When chelow is in the pot, the heat is reduced and a piece of thick cloth or towel is place on top of the pot to absorb excess steam.
Some popular polos are polo chirin, which is made with saffron, raisins, almonds and orange; adas polo, made with lentils and meat; and shekar polo, a very sweet dish prepared with honey, sugar almonds and pistachio. Wheat bread is considered the poor mans alternative to rice, but still comes in many different varieties.
Rice that is cooked almost the same as kateh, but at the start, ingredients that can be cooked thoroughly with the rice (such as grains and beans) are added. While making kateh, the heat is reduced to minimum when the rice and other ingredients are almost cooked. If kept long enough on the stove without burning and over-cooking, dami and kateh can also produce tadig. A special form of dami is tachin, which is a mixture of yogurt, chicken (or lamb) and rice, plus saffron and egg yolks.