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The BEST 11 Iran foods everyone MUST TRY
Artin Travel > Blog > The BEST 11 Iran foods everyone MUST TRY

Top 11 Iran foods You must try while traveling to Iran




There is an endless number of foods you absolutely MUST try when traveling to Iran. And that is the problem! There are so many delicious and tasty Iran foods that one can’t choose only three to eat in a day. Most travelers’ times in Iran are limited, and they can’t try everything on their Iran food list (sometimes not even half of it!). That is why we made a list of the top 11 Iran foods everyone must try while traveling to Iran. 

In this list, you will find

  1. Each food’s flavor profile (combination of flavors you will experience when you taste the food)
  2. A full list of ingredients (including sauces) for an insight into what’s used in each dish, and for you to recognize your food allergens on the list. (if you have any)

Don’t be mistaken, as the list of the most delicious Iran foods can go on forever. As tasty and popular as these 11 foods are, they do not even begin to scratch the surface of all the wonders the Persian cuisine holds! Each Iran city has its own collection of savory local dishes, sweets, and side dishes! But we couldn’t mention all these here, for they are worlds unto themselves!

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11.Gheimeh, Adored by all Iranians

Gheimeh is a traditional Iranian stew, and is as old as Iran food culture itself! This juicy stew is very popular with tourists and locals and has variations like Gheime Bademjan (served with cooked Eggplants).

This savory crimson stew is served warm, traditionally with a plate of rice (Chelo). 

Side dishes: Fresh herbs, yogurt, and Dough.

Garnished with: finely cooked Eggplants, fried potato chips

Gheimeh Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • ½ large onion diced
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cup split peas 
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ large onion
  • 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil 
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • ¼ cup crushed dried Persian lime (Limoo Amani)
  • 2 whole limoo Amani 
  • ⅛ tsp ground saffron (optional)
  • 2 TBSP butter

First flavors you feel: a juicy meaty taste and the unmistakable flavor of tomatoes

Second: semi sour taste of Persian lime, the earthy aftertaste of chickpeas

Note:  Yazd is known for its unique Gheime, which is quite different from the typical Gheima cooked in Iran. Yazd people use chickpeas, which is quite uncommon.

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10. Kashk-e Bademjan (Eggplant and Walnut Dip)

This vegetarian appetizer is one of the most popular dishes made in Iran. Kashk (Iranian whey) is a thick, creamy yogurt product that Iranians use in their cooking. In this dish, cooked (often  roasted) eggplants are thoroughly blended in Kashk, producing a rich and unique taste. This delicious Iran food is also found in almost every Iranian restaurant in the US, and is rich enough to serve as your main dish too!

This Iranian dish is best served with freshly baked bread of your choice.

Side dishes: fresh herbs

Garnished with: gound walnut, fried caramelized onions, fresh basils

Kashk-e-Bademjan-Ingredients

  • eggplants
  • vegetable oil
  • garlic clove
  • cup water
  • salt
  • cracked pepper
  • cayenne pepper powder
  • walnuts
  • yellow onion
  • vegetable oil
  • dried mint leaves
  • Kashk

First flavors you feel:  Eggplants, mildly salty taste of Kashk

Second: walnuts, a touch of herbs (like Basil and mint), hints of garlic chips

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9. Aush Reshteh, Exclusive Persian Dish

Aush is an adored Iranian food among tourists and locals. This specific type of Aush is made with noodles, but not normal noodles. These noodles are called Aush noodles and are made of flat flour. This tasty Aush is also very wholesome as it’s made with grains, fresh herbs, and legumes.

Aush Reshteh is made by Iranian families in very large proportions so that they can share it with neighbors or as Nazri (give out to anyone hungry).

Aush Reshteh is often served with no side dishes and is a rich meal on its own.

Garnished with: ground walnuts, garlic chips, caramelized fried onions, Kashk, fried dried mint

Aush Reshteh Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 9 cups low sodium beef stock (may substitute with chicken stock or vegetable stock)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • ¼ cup short-grain rice (Calrose rice)
  • ¼ cup coarse bulgur
  • ¼ cup lentils
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 3 ounces sliced scallions
  • 3 ounces chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 ounces chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 TBSP dried tarragon leaves, crushed
  • 3 TBSP dried mint leaves, crushed
  • 1 ½ -2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans or canned pinto beans
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans or canned garbanzo beans
  • 5 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • 2 large yellow onions (about 1½ pounds), sliced thin, or 10 ounces fried onions
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 4 ounces reshte aash (Raw Noodles) or linguine noodles

GARNISH:

  • ¾ cup reserved fried onions
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP dried mint leaves

First taste: the delicate taste of vegetables (parsley, scallions, cilantro, spinach leaves), the nutty taste of lentils, bulgur, and beans

Second: a tang of the sharp flavor of garlic chips, watered down by the taste of Reshteh (noodles)

Note: Aush is one of the important Iran foods, and has a lot of varieties. Each city has its own collection of regional Ashes. That is because each city of Iran has a unique set of herbs, vegetables, and fruits that they use in their traditional dishes. Aush Reshte (the one mentioned above) is the most famous Iranian Aush. Some of the other popular Aush varieties are:

  • Aush Shole Ghalamkar
  • Aush Dough
  •  Aush Tarkhine (most famously cooked in western regions of Iran)
  •  Aush Sholi
  •  Aush Torsh
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8. Dolme, Iran Food Favored by All

It comes as a surprise to many people that Iranians use every part of herbs and fruits in their culinary. Dolme (or Yarpakh Dolmasi in Azari) is fixed with young leaves from grape trees. They hold a dense and rich stuffing, which is also juicy and spiced moderately. 

Dolme Barg is served with Sangak (special Iranian bread) or flatbread.

Some love to have Dolme with Dough, and some enjoy it without any added side dishes.

Garnished with: dried barberries, fresh parsley leaves

Dolme Ingredients

  • 5 ounces fresh leaves (May substitute with the grape leaves in brine from a jar)
  • ⅓ cup Jasmine rice
  • ¼ cup medium bulgur
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup yellow split peas
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • Water to cook the split peas
  • 1 ½ cups sliced scallions (both white and green parts)
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh summer savory (may increase the amount of the other herbs by ¼ cup to substitute for summer savory)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin and fried to golden brown (about 3 ounces fried onions)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil for frying the onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 TBSP crushed dried rose petals
  • 3 TBSP firm whole fat yogurt
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

First taste: the bright taste of grape leaves, a touch of the sour taste of vinegar, the earthy and fresh flavor of rice and split peas

Second: fresh herbs (summer savory, dill, cilantro), a hint of the tarty and sweet taste of dried barberries.

Note: Dolme is fixed using different vegetables and different methods in all parts of Iran. Dolme Barg (the one you read above) uses leaves, which is one of the many popular ways of making Dolme. Other variations of this Iran food can be made with:

  • Dolme Bademjan (stuffed eggplants)
  • Dolme Goje (stuffed tomato)
  •  Dolme Felfel (stuffed bell peppers).
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7.Haleem, sweet or salty?

 Haleem is a very popular traditional Persian food, which is also served as breakfast. This dish is a hearty, thick mixture of mainly (very) thinly sliced beef and wheat. This dish is found in certain restaurants sold very early in the morning.

 Haleem is served with sugar by many Iranians, and served with salt by many other Iranians! 

This dish is best served with freshly baked sangak, or Barbari (a special Iranian bread).

 Garnished with: sesame, cinnamon, damask rose petals and melted butter

 Haleem Ingredients

  • 3 cups pelted wheat, rinsed, soaked 6-8 hours in 6 cups of water, drain before cooking
  • 2 pounds of meat (preferably lamb neck or turkey breasts)
  • 3 cups of milk

First taste: the toasted, grain like taste of wheat and the rich flavor of the meat

Second: the sweet flavor of cinnamon and a final note of a buttery flavoring

Note: Isfahan is known for its great variety of Haleem. Some of which are even cooked without meat! Find more here.

Top-11-Iranian-foods-travelartin

6.A Favored Iran Food: Koofte  

  Koofte is super popular in Iran, and for good reasons! This savory Iranian dish is basically a super-sized meatball stuffed with dried fruits, nuts, and steamed rice.

 Koofte is served with different types of Iranian bread (Sangak, Barbari, or Lavash)

Koofte is best served with fresh herbs, Torshi (pickled vegetables), and dough.

Garnished with: dried barberries, saffron, and fried onions

 Haleem is a very popular traditional Persian food, which is also served as breakfast. This dish is a hearty, thick mixture of mainly (very) thinly sliced beef and wheat. This dish is found in certain restaurants sold very early in the morning.

 Haleem is served with sugar by many Iranians, and served with salt by many other Iranians! 

This dish is best served with freshly baked sangak, or Barbari (a special Iranian bread).

 Garnished with: sesame, cinnamon, damask rose petals and melted butter

Koofte Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups thinly sliced garlic chives (tareh), or green part of scallions
  • 1 ½ TBSP crushed dried summer savory (marzeh), if unable to find it just leave it out.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp saffron powder
  • A small bowl of water will be used in half tablespoons for shaping the koofteh
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced and fried to golden brown preferably in butter (about 10 ounces fried onions, divided)
  • THE FILLING FOR 6 KOOFTEH:
  • 2 ounces of the fried onions that you’ve already made
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste (to be mixed with fried onion)
  • ⅓ cup barberries (zereshk)
  • 18 walnut halves
  • 12 small apricots
  • (Per Koofteh)- 1 TBSP each of Dried cherries, cranberries, albaloo (sour cherry)

THE SAUCE:

  • 4 ounces of the fried onions that you have already made
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • ⅛ tsp saffron
  • 2 ¾ cups hot water
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

First taste: the sweet and tarty flavor of dried fruits, and crispy nuts mixed with the taste of meat and rice

Second taste: a touch of tomato, and a hint of cinnamon 

Note: Koofte Tabrizi (the one you read about) is most famously cooked in Tabriz, as the name suggests. Other than Koofteh, Tabriz city tour can take you on a trip to some of the most delicious foodie places in Iran! Koofteh Tabrizi is one of the most delicious Iran regional foods, but it has other varieties too. These varieties include vegetarian options as well, which will be marked by “V”.

  • Koofte Nokhodchi
  • Koofte Sabzijat (V)
  • Koofte Morq (with chicken)
  • Koofte Gerdo (V) (with walnuts)
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5. Tahchin, an Iranian Food for Everyone

Tahchin is a savory Tahdig (rice cooked to perfection) stuffed with fluffy layers of tender chicken. This dish is relatively easy to make, and one of the most popular Iran foods among everyone. Tahchin looks like a cake filled with juicy chicken meat (sometimes beef, or vegetables in other variations), groundnuts, rice, and barberries. 

Tahchin is a rich dish and is served warm.

Fresh herbs, sometimes pickled vegetables, yogurt, Shirazi Salad, and fresh lemons.

Garnished with: almond and pistachio zest, and dried barberries.

Tahchin Ingredients

  •  2 pounds skinless chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (about 5 – 6)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • One medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into several pieces
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp ground Black Pepper
  • 2 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 4 TBSP yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • Dash saffron (optional)
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil, to be mixed with the yogurt and egg mixture
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 tsp Persian rice spice
  • 2 TBSP cubed butter, for the top of the rice

first: the incredibly tender texture of rice and chicken, sweet and meaty, soft and cakey. 

Second: the robust flavor of barberry, walnut, pistachio, and almond blended perfectly in the savory flesh of Tahchin.

Note: Tahchin is most popularly prepared with chicken, but has a lot of different cooking styles and ingredients in different cities. As one of the most delicious foods on Iran food list, Tahchin can also be made using:

  • Eggplants (Tahchin Bademjan)
  • Meat (Tahchin Goosht)
  • Potatoes (Tahchin Sibzamini)
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4. Zereshk Polo (Iranian chicken and rice)

Zereshk polo arrives in vibrant gashes of color to your table; and, trust the Iranian cooks on this, it looks just as promising as it tastes.

Polo is a plate of rice mixed with an extra ingredient to make the taste richer and tastier. Zereshk, which literally means dried barberries, is thoroughly mixed in rice and served with chicken and a special sauce which is added to the plate later on. This dish is extremely popular with tourists, and the juicy chicken and its sauce go well on the ‘zereshk polo’.

Because of its vibrant taste and distinctly flavorful chicken, almost all side dishes can be served with this Iran food! Yogurt, fresh herbs, pickled vegetables, and all kinds of drinks like Dough or even soda.

Garnished with: dry-fried almond and pistachio zest, fried and buttered barberries.

Zereshk Polo Ingredients

  • 8 skinless chicken thighs, or drumsticks (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • 1 large onion cut in half
  • 3 cups water
  • ⅛ tsp ground saffron powder (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin and fried to golden brown in 2 TBSP vegetable oil (or 3 ounces fried onions)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP zereshk (pick through, wash and rinse)

FOR THE ZERESHK POLO:

First taste: the aromatic Persian rice blended with the sweet-savory taste of saffron, and the juicy, tomato-based sauce on top of the tender meat of chicken.

Second taste: the buttery toasted barberries, sweet and sour, and the earthy taste of nuts in the mixture.

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3. Qorme Sabzi, The Famous Iran Food

One of the most popular Iran foods is Qorme Sabzi, which also has a vegetarian variation! this stew has pieces of beef or chicken, braised until they are only just keeping it together. The tender flesh is cooked to perfection in a stew of special vegetables, Persian dried-lime, and beans.

Qorme Sabzi goes extremely well on Iranian rice and Tahdig. This stew is popular for its rich taste and is often called Iran’s national dish.

Ghorme Sabzi is one of the tastiest Iran foods on the best Persian food list, and is usually served with fresh herbs, yogurt, raw onions, and pickled vegetables on the side. 

Qorme Sabzi Ingredients

  • Cups sliced scallions, green parts only (about 3 bunches cut to ½-inch slices)
  • 3 cups cut curly or flat-leaf parsley (about 2 bunches, no tough stems)
  • 2 cups cut cilantro (about 1 bunch) stems and all
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 pound cross rib roast or another marbled beef cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ large yellow onion, keep it in one piece
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 ½ large yellow onions, sliced very thin and fried to golden brown (or about 4 ½ -5 ounces of fried onions)
  • 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the onions
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 cup home-cooked pinto beans or canned pinto beans
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 crushed limoo Amani (dried lime)

 First: the pungent taste of fresh herbs, and the aged sourness of dried limes blended with the meaty juice of the stew.

Second: earthy flavor of beans and the delicate flesh of the braised lamb

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2. Kabab, The Savory Persian Cuisine 

Everyone and their moms know Iranian Kababs are the best in all of the Middle east. Cooking ground and seasoned meat on open flame may sound easy, but it’s an art even many Iranians haven’t mastered yet. The ones that have, will serve you Kebabs and you will probably never forget the taste in your life. The meat remains moist and tender although grilled on charcoals, and is masterfully seasoned by Persian cooks.

Kebab is a royal Iran food, and is served both with bread and rice (chelo). If you want yours with bread, you will be invited to a savory Lavash or Sangak bread almost soaked in Kebab’s leaking juice. 

Kebab is served with fiery tomatoes, also grilled on charcoal until the tender meat is perfectly cooked.

 This dish is best served with fresh herbs (most popular one is basil), raw onions, and Dough.

Kabab Ingredients

  • ½  pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • ½ medium yellow onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Sumac
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • ½  tbsp turmeric powder
  • melted butter

The most prominent flavor will be the taste of the tender, seasoned ground meat.

Note: Kebab Koobideh (the one mentioned above) is the most known Iranian Kebab among tourists. But Iranian Kebab has a long list of varieties and different grilling styles. Some are even fried on frying pans! (Kebab Tabe-ee)

  • Shishlik is a kind of kebab using the rib (grilled beef ribs).
  • Bakhtiari is a variation of Persian kebab made with red meat fillet and chicken fillet. This kebab is also called Chenje.
  • Soltani Kebab is a combination of Barg Kebab and Koobideh Kebab, and is one of the more popular versions! 
  • Barg Kebab is one of the most popular dishes among all Iran foods! Barg Kebab is prepared using boneless lamb ribs or tenderloin and is similar to steak in many ways.
  • Joojeh Kebab is the only Kebab cooked with chicken meat alone. The meat is marinated before being grilled, and is loved on a national level! 
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1.  Dizi, The Iran Food You will Never Forget

Perhaps the most famous Persian food is Dizi. This food is definitely one of the best Iran foods anyone can go for and is one of the most traditional dishes as well. Dizi is a stew of lamb, potatoes, chickpeas, and tomatoes. This food is traditionally prepared in special stone bowls (called Dizi Sangi) on charcoal. 

Dizi is every Iranian family’s favorite and is nutritious on top of being delicious. Also called Ab Goosht, this food is served with unique customs. First, the broth is served with small pieces of bread (usually Sangak) inside, and then the remaining ingredients are all mashed until soft and cottony.

Pickled vegetables (Torshi), fresh herbs, and Dough are the most popular side dishes of Dizi.

Dizi Ingredients

  • 80g / 2.8oz lamb shoulder, shanks or ribs (you could also use beef)
  • 1/4 onion (approx. 30g)
  • 1 heaped tbsp chickpeas (canned or dried)
  • 1 heaped tbsp beans (canned or dried) (I used navy beans but you could use any beans you have)
  • 1 dried lime (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 medium-size potato (40g)
  • 1/2 tomato (40g)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

First taste: the incredibly rich and tasty broth, perfected with a touch of tomato-y taste, and the unmistakable flavor of beef mingled inside the savory liquid

Second taste: earthy, meaty, and homey flavor of Ab Goosht’s ingredients mashed together.

Note: Dizi is traditionally cooked in unique stone bowls in Tandoor ovens, but Tea houses have different methods for making this savory Iranian food.  Some use clay pots, some others use copper or aluminum pots. This food can also be cooked on normal ovens without Tandoor or coals.

Top-11-Iranian-foods-travelartin

FAQ

Are there any vegetarian safe foods in Iran?

Yes! Many people wrongly believe that Iranian food is wholly consisted of meat products and there is no vegetarian or vegan option in sight. Iranian vegetarian dishes are in fact, among some of the most delicious foods even in Iran where people are said to be fond of chicken and beef.

What are the famous Iran foods?

Some of the most famous Iran foods are Dizi, Zereshk Polo (Perisan Chicken and rice), Kebab, Tahchin, and Qorme Sabzi.

Which city in Iran has the most delicious food?

Tabriz, Qeshm, Gilan, Rasht, and Isfahan are some of the famous foodie cities in Iran. Although, each Iranian city has foods made with specific ingredients or cooked using special recipes. For this reason, it is very hard to put your finger on a city with the most delicious food!

Is food in Iran expensive?

Compared to other middle eastern countries, food in Iran is not expensive. Traditional Persian dishes in most restaurants are cooked perfectly and when it comes to flavor, quality, and freshness; Persian food has it all.

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