However you spell or pronounce them, Kebabs, Kebobs, or Kababs are meat dishes that take pride of place alongside other meat-centered dishes in Persian cuisine. They are typically small pieces of seasoned whole or ground beef, lamb, chicken or seafood that are generally skewered and grilled. What makes Kebabs so tasty is the addition of spices and lengthy marination in grated onions.
With the arrival of spring, Iranians hit their local markets and eagerly look forward to finding unripe sour plums (Gojeh Sabz), unripe almonds (Chaghaleh Badom), and unripe sour grapes (Ghooreh). I find Iranians’ love of sour and unripe fruits to be incredibly unique and endearing.
Gojeh Sabz, Persian green unripe plums, are a seasonal delicacy loved by Iranians and showcased in many different forms in our cuisine. Harvested before they’re fully mature, they deliver a crispy crunch and a refreshing range of flavors.
Cotlet is a meat patty that in my humble (albeit Persian) opinion ranks quite a few notches above the good old hamburger. Many cultures have their own version of meat patties and this is the Persian one.
Ground meat of your choice, typically beef or lamb, is mixed with boiled potatoes, eggs, grated onions, the usual salt, pepper and turmeric, and selected spices, and then fried to a crispy perfection. Each region and household has its own special mix of spices – Advieh in Farsi – for addition to Cotlet to create welcoming, warming and comforting flavors.
Khoresh Rivas is yet another Persian stew that celebrates the abundance of fresh herbs and Iranians’ never ending love affair with sour flavors. In the rest of the world rhubarb’s sourness is almost always moderated with sugar or strawberries, but Iranians use rhubarb in savory dishes precisely because of its sour flavor.
Khoresh Seeb is a highly adaptable stew whose stars are the firm and tart apples (Seeb in Farsi) that are gently sauteed in butter or ghee and then placed on top of the stew as it finishes cooking.
The base of this dish is made with beef and yellow split peas, patiently cooked in a turmeric and tomato sauce which by itself is often called Gheymeh. Gheymeh is not only served alongside fried or roasted potatoes, but is also used as a decorative topping on various dishes such as Aash.
Albaloo Polo has it all: sweet, sour, salt, carbohydrates, protein, soft, crispy, and bright uplifting colors – all packed into one surprisingly humble dish. It is a delicious and flavorful meal and a true gastronomic experience that satisfies all the different taste buds in your palate. Albaloo is the Farsi word for Morello cherries, which with their distinctive dark red skins and intense flavor are highly prized in Persian culture and cuisine.
This is Aash Reshteh, one of the most popular and well-loved members of the Aash family, which has nearly 50 varieties. Aash is a Persian term used to describe a very thick style of soup.
Important ingredients for this dish are heaping amounts of herbs and various beans, but the signature ingredients are Kashk and Reshteh. Kashk is liquid whey derived from yogurt, and Reshteh is a noodle which has an appearance that’s reminiscent of linguine but a very different flavor profile.
Abgoosht is the original Persian rustic “one pot meal” that dates back to centuries ago when simple ingredients were gathered and thrown in a pot to accompany tougher cuts of meat that needed to cook for a long time.
Nowadays, with easy access to a wide range of ingredients, this once modest dish has become quite elevated! More vegetables have found their way into this one pot meal, alongside traditional Persian spices. Consequently, each family has developed their own version of Abgoosht.
What I love most about this stew is that it showcases the easier side of Persian cuisine. Many of our Khoresh (stews) use multiple ingredients and take a long while to cook, but Khoresh Aloo Esfenaj has a simpler ingredient list and is easy to prepare for a weeknight meal.
The most unique item in this dish is Aloo Zard, Persian golden plums. These are not only bright and beautiful in color, but more importantly they are much more dynamic and flavorful than many plum varieties which tend to be just sweet. Aloo-Zard is both tart and sweet, and simply more flavorful.
A traditional and popular dish from the city of Shiraz, Kalam Polo consists of cabbage and small meatballs layered into rice, with – of course – an exotic combination of spices, herbs and flavors.
Shiraz, known for its beautiful gardens and its deep poetic tradition (it was the home of both Hafez and Sa’adi), is also a significant contributor to Persian cuisine, to which it brings its own unique identity. Shirazis are proud of the many local ingredients and foods that reflect the region’s climate, culture and lifestyle. Shiraz wine, anyone?!