Food and Drinks

Standards of food hygiene are mostly satisfactory in all categories of eating-houses, except for Iranian sausages which can cause stomach problems. In general most Iranian cooking is healthy and nutritious, and you shouldn't have much problem in keeping to a balanced diet. At street stalls it is advisable only to eat hot food that you have watched being cooked. All provinces of Iran have their own dishes and specialties. However, the national dish is rice prepared in several special ways and served in vast helpings with almost every main dish, and very few of the main dishes would be considered complete without it. Iranian rice from the rainy plains of Mzandaran and Guilan is considered by many - not only Iranians - - to be one of the world's best, but much of the rice sold in the country today is imported. Chelo is rice prepared in several stages over 24 hours, boiled and steamed and served separately, while polo is rice cooked with the other ingredients. Rice in general is berenj. The rice is always fluffy and tender, never sticky and soggy. Often the cook will steam chelo rice with yogurt or an egg yolk (or a thin layer of lavish bread) to make a crunchy golden crust (tah dig) at the bottom of the pan, which is broken up and served on to of the rest of the rice. Saffron is very frequently used to flavor and color rice. Soft drinks are sold in bottles. Tea served in see-through glasses (never with milk) is an integral part of hospitality in Iran. Coffee is not widely available and is usually expensive. Fruits are served almost at all kinds of ceremonies and occasions. Second to tea, seasonal fruits are another integral part of hospitality. Every province has its own specialty for making sweets, biscuits and candies. Sweets made of dates, rice and many other fruits and substances are very common in Iran and people appreciate good sweets and tourists during their stay in Iran would develop a taste for quality of sweets and would soon recognize the origin of each one. Traditionally Iranians drink cold water with their meals. The following is a brief description of a number of the most delicious and the best known Iranian foods which you might want to try while touring in Iran: Abgusht, Lamb Stew Ab-e gusht ra ziad kin, is what you might hear the hostess telling her cook when you arrive at someone's house unexpectedly. This phrase, which means increase the water of Abgusht, is a very popular joke among Iranians. Abgusht is supposed to be a very flexible meal, one which can easily be expanded when unexpected guests arrive for dinner. Abgosht, which in Persian means the water of the meat, is one of the most popular dishes in Iran. It is supposedly a poor man's meal, but in fact it is a popular with most people. It is said that Azarbaijanis know how to prepare the best Abgusht. In that part of the country, Abgusht is cooked in a crock for half a day on a very low grill over hot ashes. The secret of a good Abgusht is the right seasoning and slow cooking. Basic Abgusht can be varied in several ways. Some people prefer not make it watery, serving the broth as a soup and the meat and the rest of the ingredients separately. Others use less water and let it cook until a very thick broth remains. The following is a short listing of the most delicious Abgusht: Abgusht, lamb stew hash Abgusht-e Bademjan, lamb stew with eggplant Abgusht-e Gholveh, sautéed lamb kidneys Abgusht-e Lubia Ghermez, lamb stew with kidney beans Ash, and Iranian Soup Ash is a very popular dish among Iranians were famous for the varieties of ashes they could prepare. There are many stories connected with the preparation of ash and the origin of the dish. The Persian word for kitchen is ash-paz-khaneh, that is the house of the cook. This should indicate the importance of the word ash and the role that soup used to play in the lives of the ancient Iranians. Ash is basically a very simple dish. The varieties of ash depend on geographic location and the available ingredients. It can be a very simple meal, prepared inexpensively, or it can be a rich meal if one knows how to spice it properly. Iranians again use their own original spicing for this basically simple meal, but with a touch of true artistry they create a meal as simple yet as exotic as the poetry on Omar Khayyam and as colorful and rich as the miniature paintings of master painters like Behzad. The following is a basic list of various Ashes prepared all over Iran: Ash-e Anar, Pomegranate soup Ash-e Mast, Hot Yogurt Soup Ash-e Reshteh, Noodle Soup Ash-e Torsh, Dried Fruit Soup Ash-e Gandom, Wheat Soup Ash-e Sholeh Ghalamkar Ash-e Sack Ash-e Kashk, Dried Whey Soup Ash-e Mash, Chickling Vetch Soup Chelo Kabab, Rice with Broiled Lamb Chelo kabab is the queen of all kababs and is a specialty of Iran. Most foreign tourists know what shish kabab is, and many of them have already tried it either in Middle Eastern restaurants or have made it themselves at home. But be sure you have never tasted chelo kabab unless you have visited Iran. Chelo kabab is derived form two words; chelo, meaning cooked rice, and kabab, meaning broiled meat or fowl. To prepare the real chelo kabab one should use fillet or lamb. But since that part of the lamb is hard to obtain in some countries, leg of lamb or sometimes shoulder of lamb are good substitutes. The secret of good and tasty chelo kabab lies in marinating of the meat. The meat should be properly marinated in onion juice and sometimes in yogurt for a day or two. There is an old Iranian tradition as to how one should eat chelo kabab is to put plenty of chelo in a plate, make a small hole in the center of it, put an egg yolk in it, then plenty of butter, the broiled kabab, and a teaspoon or two of sumac over it. Mix these ingredient well and start eating. This description and this combination, certainly, sounds very odd, but it is extremely delicious and quite different in taste. Some other meat and fowl dishes are: Jujeh Kabab, broiled chicken Kabab-e Morgh, roasted chicken Kotlet-e Kubideh, Iranian hamburger Kufteh Gusht, Iranian meat loaf Luleh Kabab, kabab with ground lamb Shami, Tehrani hamburger Shish Kabab, broiled lamb on the skewer Tas Kabab, baked lamb Desserts Since Iranians serve rice as a main dish and since most of the sauce served with it are very filling, they serve light desserts. If you ever eat at an Iranian home, you will be served fresh fruits and compote in winter. Iranians are very fond of fruit. When fruits are in season they will eat them on any possible occasion. Iranians serve fruit at lunch, tea, or dinner, very often they serve a bowl of cold fresh fruits: peaches, cherries, strawberries, grapes, melons, oranges, and cucumbers. In Iran, are grown very delicious, delicate cucumbers which are served as a fruit. When fruit is served after dinner or at tea time, it is customary for the hostess to peel the fruit and pass it to the guests. However, on special feasts days such as Now Ruz or at weddings and other special occasions, Iranians use their imagination to create exotic desserts such as Baghlava (Baklava), Halva (Sweet Dessert), and many other complicated cookies and cakes Dolmeh Barg, Stuffed Grape Leaves Dolmeh, the Iranian stuffed, usually stands for any kind of vegetable and fruit stuffed with meat and rice. Dolmeh Barg, literally meaning stuffed leaves, is the name for stuffed grape leaves. This is a real favorite of the Middle Eastern nations. It is difficult to trace the origin of this dish. Whether it originated in the vine-growing regions of the Caucasus or in the Middle East is not known for sure. Whatever its origin, it is the favorite dish of Turkmans, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Azarbaijanis, Armenians, Turks, Greeks, Arabs and the Iranians. There are many ways of preparing dolmeh. It can be served cold or warm. When served warm, it is preferred to be stuffed with meat and vegetables. When served cold, it is normally stuffed with rice and currants. However, when dolmeh is stuffed with meat and vegetables, it tastes equally good when served cold. Dolmeh makes excellent hors d'oeuvres for cocktails. It can be prepared a few days in advance, stored in the refrigerator, and cooked the day it is going to be served. As will be found here, dolmeh makes and excellent topic for conversation at cocktail parties and dinners. Kinds of dolmeh are: Dolmeh Bademjan, Stuffed Eggplants Dolmeh Barg, Stuffed Grape Leaves Dolmeh Beh, Stuffed Quince Dolmeh Felfel Sabz va Gojeh Farangi, Stuffed Green Pepper and Tomatoes Dolmeh Kadu, Stuffed Squash Dolmeh Dib, Stuffed Apples Yalanchi Dolmeh, Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves Khoresh, Sauces for Pilafs Khoresh in Persian stands for a stewy type of sauce which is usually prepared with meat or fowl combined with fresh or dried vegetables, fresh or dried fruit, and sometimes nuts and cereals. Persians almost always eat rice with khoresh. Usually, a plate full of white fluffy rice is served topped with khoresh. When rice is served with khoresh it is called chelo khoresh. Chelo khoresh is a favorite of all Iranians, and is served in every Iranian house. Because of the popularity of chelo khoresh, the Iranians try to prepare it with various types of khoresh. In the springtime when fresh vegetables are available, they combine such exotic vegetables as rhubarb, eggplants, spinach, mushrooms, etc., with various types of meat or fowl. In summer, she takes advantage of the fresh fruit available in the market, and prepares the most delicately flavored sauce from fresh peaches, green plums, or sour cherries combined with chicken or meat. In the fall, she prepares the most exquisitely flavored sauce from quinces, tart apples, and pumpkins, combined with meat or fowl. During the winter when fresh vegetables and fruits become scarce, she makes the most of the nuts and the dried fruits available. She uses the seasoning techniques taught by her ancestors and produces khoresh using wild duck with pomegranates and walnuts or lamb and prunes seasoned with cinnamon. Some of the most popular khoreshes are: Khoresh-e Alu: prune sauce Khoresh-e Bademjan: Eggplant sauce Khoresh-e Baghali: lima bean sauce Khoresh-e Beh: quince sauce Khoresh-e Esfanaj: spinach sauce Khoresh-e Fensenjan: chicken with pomegranate sauce Khoresh-e Gharch: mushroom sauce Khoresh-e Gheimeh: meat and split pea sauce Khoresh-e Hulu: peach sauce Khoresh-e Kadu: squash sauce Khoresh-e Karafs: celery sauce Khoresh-e Lubia: string bean sauce Khoresh-e Mast va kari: yogurt and curry sauce Khoresh-e Portaghal: orange sauce Khoresh-e Rivas: rhubarb sauce Khoresh-e Sak: spinach and orange sauce Khoresh-e Sib: apple and meat sauce Kufteh Tabrizi, Tabrizi Meat Balls The word Kufteh, which literally means pounded in Persian, refers to any type of ground meat that has been formed into a meat ball. Iranians make a variety of meat balls and use them in soups, khoreshes, and as a basis for quick meals. It is said that the best kufteh is made in Azarbaijan, and that Azarbaijanis have the secret of the best flavored kufteh. Kufteh Tabrize is the most famous variety of kufteh prepared in Iran. Try it either when in Tabriz or anywhere else in Iran. Kuku, a Casserole Dish Kuku is a type of dish usually made of vegetables and eggs. Eggs are the bases for these casserole dishes, because of serving as the binding agent. Kuku is a very popular dish with most Iranian families. It can be served cold as well as warm, and also it can be prepared in advance of the meal time. Kuku dishes make a very easy and attractive main course. However, in Iran such dishes are not served as the main course. Since kuku tastes excellent cold, it is very often used as a picnic (mostly of Fridays) and travel food. To most Western tourists kuku should have a special appeal because it uses the same principle as American casserole dishes. Some delicious kukus are: kuku-ye Bademjan, eggplant casserole Kuku-ye Bademjan va kadu, eggplant and squash casserole Kuku-ye Gusht, meat casserole Kuku-ye Jujeh, chicken casserole Kuku-ye Lubia Sabz, string bean casserole Kuku-ye Sabzi, vegetable casserole Kuku-ye Sib Zamini va Gojeh Farangi, potato and tomato casserole Mast, Yogurt Mast, known in the West as yogurt, is used almost in every Iranian family as well as all over the Middle Eastern and Balkan countries. Some physicians attribute the stamina and longevity of the Middle Eastern and Balkan people to Mast. However, these same people were among the poorest people in the world and their daily food lacked the vitamins required for good health. That's why yogurt was considered the panacea for human ills, and the Iranians' long life in the past was also attributed to it. It is said that Chengiz Khan lived on it during his long marches through Mongolia and Iran when he couldn't obtain other food. Mast, which is now popular in the West, had been known to the Middle Easterners by different names. In Iran, yogurt is the food of the rich as well as the poor. Walking down the avenues at lunch hour in major cities, you will see the mason cobbler, the carpenter, the storekeeper, all using yogurt as a part of their daily food. If you go into a restaurant, you will find yogurt served there in many forms. Iranians whose ancestors have had this healthy food for generations finds many uses for it. She serves yogurt with meals, makes very delicious warm or cold soup with it, or serves it as a dessert. For generations, Iranians have served yogurt with meals, makes very delicious warm or cold soup with it, or serves it as a dessert. For generations, Iranians have served yogurt as a soft drink in summer as well. They dilute it with water, add a pinch of salt, spearmint, and call it abdugh. Iranians, particularly in rural areas, keeps abdugh on hand and serves it to her family and guests on hot summer days. This drink has served as a perfect substitute for salt tablets. Yogurt may be served with diced cucumbers, green onions, chopped fresh dill, and a pinch of salt and pepper as a salad dish. Quite often it is used for marinating meat. It not only makes the meat tender, but also gives it a very delicate flavor., As a dessert or as a pick up between meals, yogurt can be served with sugar, fresh fruits, canned fruits, preserves, or honey. Try it! Polo and Chelo, Rice For generations, Iranians and the Near Esterners have used rice, or berenj, as a basic food. It is the daily staple for all, and the bread and the potatoes of Iran and her neighboring countries. The Iranian farmer takes great pride in his rice fields and produces the most delicately flavored rice known. Most of the long-grain rice which is grown in Iran comes from the Caspian Sea area, the province of Guilan and Mazandaran, as well as the slopes of the Alborz mountains. A small quantity for local consumption is also grown wherever an abundant supply of water is abailable. There are three well-known varieties of rice in Iran. First is Berenj-e Domisiah, second Berenj-e Sadri, and third Berenj-e Champa, indicated in the order of their quality. Since rice is the daily food of the majority of Iranians, they have developed a special method of cooking the rice in order to preserve all its natural flavor and produce a light and fluffy delicacy. She calls this fluffy rice polo or berenj, as is better known in the West. The more ways she knows how to prepare polo the better she has captured the art of cooking this delicate dish. The preparation of polo is indeed an art., and the Iranians are the connoisseurs of this art. Although rice has been known as the product of China and India, the only way the people of these countries know how to prepare rice is just by plain boiling. But Iranians, who have introduced the art of cooking rice to their neighboring countries, consider polo as the essence of an exquisite dinner, steaming it and using other various methods. In Iran rice is served in two basic ways, either as polo or chelo. Chelo is the name applied to steamed white rice cooked separately and over which different types of sauces or meats are served. Polo, often called pilaf in the West, is the name applied to rice with which other ingredients are mixed in the cooking process. Remember the following varieties when ordering in a restaurant: Adas Polo, Rice with Lentils Albalo Pole, Rice with Black Cherry Baghali Polo, Rice with Lima Beans Chelo, Steamed Rice Estanboli Poso, Rice with Tomato Sauce Gheisi Polo, Rice with Apricots Havij Polo, Rice with Carrots Kadu Polo, Rice with Pumpkin Kateh, Cooked Rice Keshmesh Polo, Rice with Raisins Lubea Polo, Rice with String Beans Morgh Polo, Rice with Chicken Reshteh Polo, Rice with Noodles Sabzi Polo, Rice with Vegetables Shirin Polo, Sweet Rice Sutti Polo, Rice with Milk Tah Chin, Rice and Lamb Tah Chin-e Esfanaj, Rice with Spinach From:

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