Dear Food Diary,
The food in Iran is very different from other places we have been to. Saffron is a new flavour we are slowly familiarizing ourselves with.
Unfortunately we couldn’t fit every dish on here. Just like in China, every province has their own specialty, in Iran’s case, we’ve been told there’s a sweet unique to each city.
1. Grape Syrup with Sesame paste | شیره و ارده | Isfahan
Prepared by our lovely host in Isfahan, this is a breakfast with a variety of interesting food. Above the sliced cucumber you can see a brown sauce. It’s sweet and smooth, sweet from the grape syrup and smooth from the sesame paste, like tahini. Beside it is carrot jam which is very popular here and taste like any normal jam after all the added sugar!
2. Sangak | سنگک | All of Iran
One of the four types of bread we’ve seen so far in Iran is Sangak. It’s cooked on hot stones so has big brown dimples all over it. The thickness of Sangak makes it fairly chewy as well.
3. Dizi | دیزی | Tonekabon
This stew is eaten in two steps: soup first, then the remaining solids later. First the soup is poured into a bowl and pieces of bread are added until it soaks up all the soup. Then stirred and eaten. The next step was something quite unexpected…
The store owner came and poured the remains into our bowl and started MASHING it into baby food. Then with bread you eat that delicious mashup of chickpeas, mutton, tomato, potato and beans. Accompanied bread is called “Lavash”.
4. Biryani | بریانی | Isfahan
Meat dish served with tanour bread and reyhan (Persian basil). The sheep mince and lung meat is shaped into a pattie and wrapped inside the bread. You rip pieces of bread, put on some herbs and mince, then eat. A lot of food in Iran is eaten this way using your hand. 肉菜搭配单口面包和reyhan（波斯罗勒）。绵羊肉和肺肉被塑造成一个小馅饼，包裹在面包里面。你撕开面包片，加上一些草药和碎肉，然后吃。伊朗的很多食物都是用这种方式用手吃的。
5. Kebab | کباب | All of Iran
Honorable mention for the most popular food we had during our stay with Iranians. Kebab is usually cooked over coal or wood and mainly chicken and tomatoes go on the stick. The tomatoes get roasted until the skin is black, but the skin is removed before eating leaving the soft insides (which gets mashed again!). Together it is eaten with bread, and less often with rice. 荣誉提名为最受欢迎的食物，我们在我们逗留伊朗人期间了。烤肉通常是过熟煤或木材，主要鸡肉和西红柿去棒。番茄烤得到直至皮肤是黑色的，但皮肤是吃而使柔软的内心之前除去（其被再次捣碎！）。它与面包一起食用，少吃米饭。
6. Mutton and Eggplant Stew | خورشت بادمجان | Mashhad
During our visit in Mashhad, our friend Ali took us to the Holy Shrine for a “holy meal”. He helped us get a ticket for the restaurant which apparently is very difficult to get. Being a tourist, we were considered pilgrims too so by showing our passports, the ticket officer kindly gave us three tickets.
The meal consisted of a big plate of rice (some saffron rice on top), bread, yoghurt and the stew. It was so filling we took the bread home to give to our host.
7. Eggplant Dip | کشک بادمجان | Tonekabon
A popular Iranian dish made with eggplant and kashk. Kashk is a type of yoghurt whey, a byproduct in the process of making cheese. The dish has a slightly smokey flavour and a few that we’ve tried were too smokey to enjoy. When it’s not smokey it’s delicious. Once again it is eaten with bread using your (clean) hands. Accompanied bread is called “Barbari”.
8. Gormeh Sabsi |قورمهسبزی| Isfahan
Eaten with rice (fourth on the right), this herb stew is made of various green herbs and beans. For a bit of Farsi lesson, Gormeh means stew, and sabsi means herbs. Perhaps it’s a good meal for kids to have their greens without telling them what inside.
The third plate on the right we forgot to ask the name for. It is eggplant slices cooked in tomatoes paste spiced with cinnamon and tumeric!
9. Mutton Thick Stew | اش شعله قلمکار | Rasht
Ash is a thick stew made from beans, lentils, leafy vegetables and mutton. The stew is full of flavours and much needed protein for our cycling diet. Preparation wise it is difficult to make without a kitchen, as you need to soak the lentils and beans overnight and cook for several hours.
Snacks and Beverages 小吃和饮料
10. Sharbat Drink | شربت |Mashhad
Sharbat literally means syrup. Khakshi (left) consists of tiny reddish-brown seeds, called teff or herb-Sophia in English. Tokhm-e Sharbati (right) literally means “seed for sharbat” and has basil seeds and cucumber.
The drink is sweet and refreshing. This one is particularly fancy looking because we had it at a restaurant.
Sharbat字面意思是糖浆。 Khakshi（左）由微小的红褐色种子组成，英文称为teff或herb-Sophia。 Tokhm-e Sharbati（右）字面意思是“种子为sharbat”，并有罗勒种子和黄瓜。
11. Pastry Sweets Baghlava | باقلوا | Mashhad
We were told these sweets could be found in Turkey as well. The small delicately made pastry sweets come in different shapes. Our most favourite are the ones topped with walnut and pistachio pieces. You’ll get your hands sticky with this sweet because it is soaked in sugary syrup.
12. Salted caviar | اشپل |Rasht
Did you know the world’s rarest and most expensive caviar comes from beluga sturgeon that swim in the Caspian Sea. We had something close to that in Rasht.
Our light caviar snack was accompanied with broad beans, white pomegranate yoghurt and walnut. It’s good the portion was small because it was very salty.
That’s all we have for now. We will continue to discover new food everyday as we roam around the rest of Iran. If only we could capture the smell and share it on the blog. You’ll just have to come to Iran try it yourself.
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