Persian Cuisine - A Repertoire of Highly Refined, Diverse and Fragrant Dishes
Persian food is technically Iranian food and Iran’s geographic position has considerable historical value and plays a significant role in the cuisine. Located on land that connects the Far East and the Middle East in the center of what was the Silk Road, it was a transitional point for products that passed through. As Iran played host to much of the product bargaining and marketing between the West and the East, they included many of their goods into their own cooking. Popular products include rice, eggplant, and lemons, all of which playing an important part in Persian cuisine.
In Iranian cooking, wheat is a staple, with yogurt, poultry, and lamb being popular too. A distinctly sour flavor is evident in most dishes.
Importance of rice
A true specialty of the region is rice dishes. Certain rice dishes may include sour cherries, pomegranate, and barberries that underscore the sweet-sour dynamic that is prevalent in Persian food. Steamed rice or Chelo as it is called is served with most Persian dishes. Rice is either mixed with other ingredients, which is a polo, or food is plated on top of a bed of rice. A feature that is prized in Persian cooking is to have a pot of rice with a buttery, crunchy and golden crust at the bottom of the pot. This is referred to as tahdig, which is one of this cooking’s most challenging techniques. It is usually made from thinly sliced potatoes or onions, or the rice itself and yogurt.
Fragrance and flavor
The cuisine’s repertoire is highly refined, diverse and fragrant, based on complex techniques. They are infused with spices like cardamom, sumac and saffron, herbs and fresh flowers like mint, fenugreek, and rose petals; fruits like barberry and pomegranate, nuts like almonds and pistachios and all kinds of citrus.
The lack of international influence
The roster might sound familiar and true since Persian cooking influenced Turkish, Northern Indian, Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisines that are also categorized as Mediterranean while remaining under the radar itself. Unlike Mediterranean cuisine eateries, there is a serious lack of Persian restaurants.
Comparing Persian to Mediterranean, you will find that the aforementioned cuisines also classify under the Mediterranean banner. In fact, you will find many that actually think that Persian cuisine is Mediterranean food. It remains a highly debatable subject though with many cookery experts like Clifford A. Wright arguing that “there is no such thing as Mediterranean cuisine.”