Persian Cuisine

Cuisine, in terms of both the preparation of food and the social aspects of dining, is an essential part of any culture; indeed, some fundamental aspects of a culture may be more readily apparent in its culinary arts than in other traditions.

Certainly, many observations that might be made about food in Iran reinforce those that can be deduced from other facets of its culture. There is a mainstream culinary tradition primarily associated with the urban, Persian-speaking population that can be taken as essentially the common national cuisine, but the country also has a very rich array of local, regional, and ethnic dishes.

Persian cooking has many features in common with Indian, central Asian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisines, yet it has its own particular characteristics and is unmistakably different from any of its counterparts. For instance, while many ingredients of Iranian and Indian food are similar, Indian food is spicier and uses pepper very generously. Likewise, many of the ingredients used in Persian cooking would be familiar to Americans, but Americans would be surprised at the unique ways the ingredients are used and the flavors they produce.

A good Persian cook has an almost miraculous ability to turn simple ingredients into dishes of great subtlety and beauty. This Persian style of cooking is sophisticated and refined enough to hold its own with any of the world’s other great cuisines, but it is relatively little known and appreciated outside the region. However, that is changing as the recent emigration of Iranians and their settlement in other countries, especially Europe and the United States, has resulted in the appearance of Persian restaurants in major cities like Paris, London, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Food and dining has a public face in Iran, but its fullest development and greatest glories are to be found in the private setting of the home, among relatives and friends. Especially in social gatherings, the variety and abundance of foods, as well as the conviviality and generosity of the host, are remarkable. Sharing food is an important mechanism of socialization and social bonding. A traditional proverb states that a way to win someone’s favor is to share your food with them: Namakgir kardan, which means "having someone to have a taste of the salt in your food"(i.e., to become bound by hospitality).

persian cuisine.steptoiran.comIn general, culinary practices in Iran have been affected by several important cultural factors. The most obvious, of course, are the requirements of Islamic dietary law since the vast majority of the population are Muslims: meat should come from animals that have been ritually slaughtered; pork and certain other foods are forbidden; and wine or other alcoholic beverages, though certainly used by some people at various times, are illegal under Islamic law and have been strictly prohibited.

There is also a kind of basic philosophy to Iranian cooking that has its sources in ancient Zoroastrian tradition and concepts perhaps derived ultimately from Galenic medical theory. Foods are regarded as being either "hot" ( garmi ) or "cold" ( sardi ) in their nature and in the effects they have on the consumer, inducing either excitement or lethargy, for example. For instance, while yogurt is regard as a cold item, red meat is classified as hot. Individual dishes and meals as a whole seek to balance these two qualities; spices are used in moderation, and ingredients often emphasize contrasting flavors like sweet and sour. Of course, the younger generation, educated in modern sciences, tends to be neither familiar with these traditional concepts nor to find them particularly relevant when it comes to modern food items like pizza.



Gem of Persia
Edwin & Diana From  The Netherlands
We had a wonderful holiday in Iran en that was also because of our tour guide Shahram Rafie of Step To Iran. He has a lot of knowledge about the history of Iran and it’s cultural heritage and tells enthusiastically about it. Although we had beforehand an itenary, he organized spontaneous things in between: climbing into ancient desert cities, visiting a carpet shop with explanation by the carpet seller, doing a jeep safari, etc. This was of course always in consultation with us. We also had enough time to do things on our own. Furthermore he arranges everything, like a roomchange or a place in a full (!) restaurant; and knows the best restaurants in every town. Last but not least he is a nice guy, which is important when you travel together for a couple of weeks. So we love to visit Iran again, with Step To Iran.


Ancient Persia Pakage
Anna From  Italy
We had such a wonderful time in discovering the beauty of Persia. Everything was arranged by step to Iran, visa procedure, accommodation, domestic flights. Many thanks to Ali, reliable and capable guide whose precious explanations we appreciated a lot.


Kerman Daily Tour
David From  France
I asked for a tailor made travel in order to visit the south part of Iran, Kerman, Kalut desert and fortress of Bam. All the services were according my requests, the guide by car took me where I wanted, that was perfect. l definitely recommend step to Iran for a good travel experience without worries in this amazing country.


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