A Primer on Persian Cuisine

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Food

For foodies, every new cuisine is an exotic adventure. Each culture develops a shared palate of unique flavors and textures. While less well-known than Chinese or Indian food, Persian cuisine, or the cooking native to modern Iran, has become beloved by many who’ve had the pleasure of experiencing these ancient and refined tastes.

Persian Food Fundamentals

Historical Persia was a crossroads of East and West, and its cookery reflects both traditions. Meals are built on a staple of either bread or rice, which is often mixed with a variety of meat, vegetables, herbs, dried fruits and nuts. Common fruits include dates, pomegranates, apricots, grapes and raisins, while standard vegetables are eggplants, beans, squash, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots.

Famed Iranian-American chef and San Diego native Samin Nosrat says Persian cuisine is principally about balance. Iranian food features more bitter and sour ingredients than Anglo-American taste buds are used to. Primary spices are saffron, rose water and turmeric, while prominent condiments include yogurt, feta cheese, sour fruit juices and pickled vegetables.

Persian Culinary Customs

Iranians normally eat three meals a day. Breakfast traditionally consists of flatbread with butter, cheese and jam. Lunch and dinner feature one or more main courses surrounded by smaller side dishes of assorted vegetables, often served raw. The default beverage with any meal is tea, but can also be traditional Persian coffee.

Persian Delicacies

Typically, classic Persian specialties San Diego CA consist of stew (such as of meat, eggplant or pomegranate) served over rice, or a meat dish alongside the rice, such as kabab (kebabs.) Other popular favorites include barley soup, polo (pilafs) with chicken or lamb, tahdig (charred rice with various toppings) and kuku (a kind of Iranian omelet.) Finally, no list of Persian dishes would be complete without mentioning dolmeh, or grape leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice, herbs and spices.

Discover the special delights of Persian food for yourself. You can try to copy authentic Persian recipes online or, better yet, find your nearest Persian market or restaurant.

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