Iranian food

The Iranian food, which is as old as the country itself, is consistent of a thousand different colorful ingredients. Every single ethnic group brings something exquisite to the table –both literally and figuratively!

Of course, a few millennia of civilization, massive exposure to neighboring countries and the cultural exchange with Asia and Europe are explanatory and have added to the many layers of Iranian food history.

Iranian food, falls within the range of right amount of spices, sour and sweet flavors create unexpected taste combinations which makes them work together magically; and it all leads to Iranian food becoming one of the most talked-about characteristics of the country.

We owe some of the culinary diversity to the vastly different weather in each region. As opposed to what you might have heard about the weather in Iran, it is not all a big desert.

The prosperous lands of northern Iran grant access to a great variety of agricultural products and livestock animals which make Iranian food to be more of a diverse one among Asian food. Also, with the Caspian Sea so close, seafood is easily available in Iranian menus. The Iranian food specified to the Northern region is mostly based on rice, beef, fish and chicken and the flavors lean towards the sour side. The southern Iranian food on the other hand, much similar to Indian cuisines tend to be hot and spicy. Proximity to the Persian Gulf creates great biodiversity which has evidently affected the food in the southern regions.

In the following text we are going to talk about the most famous Iranian food in order to help you choose your desired Iranian food according to your dietary habits and enjoy different types of food on a travel to Iran.

  • Iranian Food: Breakfast

Let’s start our journey with breakfast, just like we start our day.

A lot like any other culture, bread is an inseparable part of the Iranian breakfast. Anyone looking to grab a bread or Naan, as it is called in Persian, is faced with a multitude of choices, Sangak, Lavash, Taftoon and Barbari, just to name a few, are some of the breads found in Iranians’ everyday grocery lists. Cheese, butter, honey, jam, herbs, and different nuts are essentials existing in every house in Iran. Halim and Adasi (lentil soup) are also some of the traditional hot Iranian food usually served as breakfast.

Iranian breakfast is almost always sided with a cup of tea or two, since Iranians like to start the day by drinking tea and continue throughout the rest of their day with the kettle on and the water boiling.

  • Common Iranian Dishes:

Iranian Stews:

There are several types of Iranian stews typically made by Iranians such as: Khorak, Khoresh and Dizi, the majority of which take a long while to cook but the results are always quite rewarding. Khoresh is mostly served with rice and consists of different herbs, onions, tenderized meat and other ingredients depending on what kind of Khoresh we are talking about. Ghormeh Sabzi or the Iranian herb stew is an honorable mention when it comes to Khoresh, which is rich with fiber and protein and strongly aromatic. Ghormeh Sabzi is one of the first dishes coming to mind on the topic of Iranian food.

Rice and Pilaf:

Since the Safavid era, rice has been a fundamental element of Iranian food for centuries and it is still served as a staple dish alongside many other dishes. Dami and Polo are two of the popular Iranian rice cooking methods, mostly using white Bastami rice. Rice in the Iranian food could be accompanied by a selection of chopped vegetables, herbs, beans, fruits, and sometimes minced meat or chicken chunks to create a good number of rice-based Iranian dishes. Lubia-polo, Zereshk-polo and Tahchin are some of the well-liked pilafs you will find in Iran.

Tahdig:

Although not a meal, Tahdig is a common and vastly popular part of the Iranian food. It is basically scorched rice, bread or potato slices with a crunchy texture and is almost always cooked and served with the rice.

Kebab:

Different types of kebab are oftentimes ranked as the most popular Iranian food among tourists as well as locals. There are two ways to serve kebabs in Iran: either with steamed rice or bread and always with grilled tomatoes. Kebab served with rice is called ‘Chelo kebab’ and referred to as the national Iranian food. There are various kinds of kebabs original to Iran that Iranians take pride in, the most common ones being Kubide (minced meat mixed with cut onions), Juje (grilled pieces of chicken) and Tabei.

Kalepache:

Even though Kalepache is a majorly favored Iranian food among locals, it might not be everyone else’s cup of tea. But if you are adventurous with your food, trying Kalepache or Khash, which is simply boiled head and trotters of sheep, could be a unique experience. Although Kalepache is also traditional to a number of neighboring countries, it is safe to assume each country brings its own quirk to the food that makes it slightly different and more accustomed to the food palate of the region.

Ash and Soup:

Ash is a form of traditional Iranian soup differentiated from ordinary soup by its thickness and ingredients. Ashe Reshteh, mainly made of thin noodles, herbs and beans as well as Ashe Shole Ghalamkar are two of the conventional thick soups, well-liked in most Iranian households. There are also more diluted and watery types of soup cooked in Iran namely Soupe Jo and Adasi. Ash and Soup also can be used as appetizers before having the main Iranian food.

Shole Zard:

Shole Zard or Persian saffron rice pudding which is more commonly served as a desert, is very sweet and a lot of the time is associated with religious intents in Iran to which there are two reasons: first off, it is customary to break the fast with Shole Zard during Ramadhan (or Ramazan) in Iran, and the second reason concerns Nazri. Nazri is the food cooked and given away to others, especially the poor, after one’s wish is achieved and Shole Zard is often cooked as Nazri. Be aware of Shole Zard if you have a sweet tooth, since being one of the most delicious Iranian food helps it to steal your heart!

  • Vegetarian Options:

If you are interested in vegetarian food options, the good news is that the Iranian food will offer you plenty. Vegetable-based dishes make up a great percentage of Iranian food and are available for ones in search of a healthier life-style.

KuKu:

To simply put it, Kuku is egg wrapped in several ingredients like herbs or potatoes and then grilled to perfection. Herb Kuku or Kuku Sabzi plays a culturally prominent role since it is served at Nowrouz, spring equinox which is celebrated by Iranians as the new year. As a national Iranian food for Nowrouz, Iranian also eat rice, cooked with special vegetables and fish.

Mirzaghasemi:

Mirzaghasemi, also known as Persian eggplant dip, is an appetizer (sometimes served as a main dish) original to Gilan province in northern Iran. It includes eggplants, responsible for the smoky flavor, eggs, garlic and tomatoes providing a high nutritional value. This is also one the Iranian food loved by many which means being a northern Iranian food does not make it a local one.

Salad Shirazi:

Salad Shirazi is regularly found on every Iranian Table (or sofreh!) as a side dish. A number of vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers and onions as the main ingredients are cut and mixed in a bowl together with vinegar or lime juice. The stunning color combination compliments the overall look and brings a new life to the food table.

Whilst Iranian food contains a remarkable history and is currently one of the center-points in Iranian culture, it is time-consuming to cook and unfortunately as the city life gets busier people find less and less time to contribute to traditional ways of Iranian culinary arts. But hopefully the varied and flavorsome dishes will live on to be a part of Iranians’ everyday life for much longer.

Everything about Iran Hotels

Accommodation surely plays a great role in today’s tourism industry; even more so than it used to. Although tastes and expectations might differ drastically from one individual to another when it comes to picking a temporary residency for holidays, almost everyone can agree on a number of essentials. Safety, high quality service and the welcoming ambient to name a few, can affect the guests’ experience positively. We hope to be helpful by introducing a handful of hotels in Iran possessing those qualities.

  • Boutique and traditional: most favored among the Iran hotels

Out of all Iran hotels, boutique hotels are popular amongst tourists mostly because of the traditional architecture and the old texture. The majority of them are centuries-old constructions and monuments masterfully renovated to function as hospitality centers. A great opportunity to be taken by history enthusiasts looking to spend a few nights within walls with character and old tales to tell. In the following text we will go through some of Iran hotels.

  1. Saraye Ameriha Hotel (Kashan)

Saraye ameriha was built for the governor of Kashan during the Zand dynasty to serve as a family residence. The ample historic house has been refurbished and is now utilized as a tourist-favorite museum and hotel, ready to take in guests who travel long ways to visit and appreciate the ornamentation arts used to decorate the several interiors and exteriors of the complex. Several types of traditional Iranian arts are evident on every single wall and floor such as woodcarvings, mogharnas and mirror works among other things. The house, which is now amongst the highly demanded Iran hotels, consists of multiple yards, pools and currently, 27 rooms and also hosts international and national cultural programs.

  1. Moshir Ol-Mamalek Garden Hotel (Yazd)

The Moshir Ol-Mamalek hotel is primarily known for its astonishing garden with flowing streams, pounds and fountains surrounded by tall aged trees. The garden hotel is situated in the historical area of the city, not too far from touristic sites namely the fire temple (aka, Atashkade), Jame Mosque of Yazd and Alexander’s prison. The hotel is well-equipped and contains a traditional restaurant, a coffee shop and a gift shop and was one of the first gardens to join the Iran hotels.

  1. Nezamiyeh Hotel (Tehran)

The Nezamiyeh Mansion –a hotel as well as a national tourist attraction- is located in downtown Tehran, in the Baharestan square. The garden was first built by a chancellor of Naser Al-Din shah (of the Qajar lineage) and the mansion was later constructed in the Pahlavi era to host the parliament building. Years later in 2017, the century-old house was transformed into one of the hotels in Iran so that the visitors could enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and cherish the architectural style remaining from the Qajar and Pahlavi era.

  1. Darbe Shazdeh (Shiraz)

The hotel of Darbe Shazde is located in the historical heart of Shiraz. The traditional-style mansion is colored with remarkable sash windows, and is a legacy from the Qajar period. The hotel is regularly sought out by tourists looking into Iran hotels due to the warm and charming atmosphere and close proximity to Vakil bazaar which can be easily reached by foot from Darbe Shiraz.

  1. Ghasr Monshi (Isfahan)

Like most Iran hotels with historic background, Ghasr Monshi is a piece of Qajar architecture based in Isfahan. Aside from the outstanding yard and artistic constructions, Ghasr Monshi is a great choice for those looking for accommodation within walking distance of tourist attractions in Isfahan such as Naghshe Jahan square, Lotfollah mosque and Shah Mosque.

  • Iran hotels: Five-star hotels of Iran

If not a boutique hotel, then your best option might be a five-star hotel if you value comfort above all and if you are willing to pay a little extra for it. Numerous Iran hotels have trained employees and western-class service to offer.

  1. Espinas Palace (Tehran)

Espinas Palace, a five-star luxury hotel standing in a northwest district of Tehran, offers an enticing number of amenities including multiple restaurants and cafés preparing national and international food and beverage applicable to any taste. The modern building stretching as tall as it does, grants the guests a nice view of the city and the proud mountains of the north, causing it to stand out in comparison to the rest of Iran hotels.

  1. Toranj Marine Hotel (Kish Island)

The first and only of Iran hotels built on the sea is settled in the marvelous Kish Island. The floors in every suite are fully made of glass, enabling the guests to watch the ocean and the sea life flowing within it. You can also spend time on the balcony and observe the sea surrounding you change color as the sun rises and sets. Although not very close to the city center, the hotel offers daily city tours to make up for it.

Iran Hotels

  1. Abbasi Hotel (Isfahan)

The Abbasi complex of Isfahan was constructed four centuries ago during the Safavid era as a caravanserai to accommodate travelers. Later on, the caravanserai was carefully restored to serve its initial purpose once again in the modern world. The originality and exterior façade was preserved while the rooms were remodeled to be more fitting as hotel rooms. Not many might remember now after decades but the 1974 movie ‘And Then There Were None’ was shot there forever capturing the intricately designed interior through the camera lenses.

Rest assured that you will regret it if you visit Iran and somehow miss the most ancient of Iran hotels still standing with a treasury of Persian art inside.

  1. Darvishi Hotel (Mashhad)

Royal Darvishi hotel is positioned very closely to the holy shrine of Imam Reza and provides an impressive variety of amenities for the guests and pilgrims to further maximize the enjoyment of their residents during their stay. Some of the services include a children’s playing room, pools, traditional baths, professional masseuses and city tours, placing it among the best of Iran hotels.

  1. Zandiyeh Hotel (Shiraz)

Shiraz, being the historical center of Iran, has many of Iran hotels and different types of lodging built within it. Zandiyeh hotel sitting right in the heart of the city, providing service of high quality and prone to satisfy even for the pickiest guests, is one of them. The majority of monuments, museums and Vakil bazaar are easily accessible from the hotel. A traditional Iranian bath with unique design is also put up as a highlight accompanied by conference halls, a sport complex and a gallery.

  • Unique hotels of Iran

Iran is made up by vast lands and a collection of natural resources such as deserts, mountains and seas leading to an increasing demand for more touristic facilities in those vicinities. Let’s proceed to learn more about nature-oriented Iran hotels.

  1. Barin Hotel (Shemshak)

Barin Hotel is nestled somewhere on the Alborz mountains, about an hour drive away from Tehran and within close range of Shemshak ski resort. The design was inspired by the snow and the mountains surrounding it. Contemporary and flexible, easily catching the eye as well as representing the nature and blending into it. If you by any chance, found your way around Shemshak for skiing, particularly during a colder season, consider making a stop at the Barin complex in order to check out the most peculiar design among Iran hotels and the thrilling landscape.

  1. Bali Desert hotel (Khur, Isfahan)

The Hotel of Bali is the perfect place to stop by for the desert-loving folk in search of Iran hotels. The architecture design is traditionally heat-proof, adjusting itself to the scorching sun of Khur desert. There are a number of desert-based tourist attractions and activities (such as camel riding) located closely to the hotel.

  1. Laleh Rocky Hotel (Kandovan, East Azerbaijan)

The laleh Kandovan hotel placed near Kandovan tourist village, has been listed as the third rocky hotel in the world. The rocky texture and architecture are unique features drawing in many tourists from all over the world, curious about one of the most unusual Iran hotels. Despite the natural interior and exterior made mostly out of rocks, the hotel is fully equipped with facilities and amenities, aiming to cover everything needed for a delightful stay.

  • Eco-lodges of Iran (ecotourism resident sites)

Have you ever desired to experience life like a local and see the world through different lenses for a few days? Travelers have been seeking to expand their knowledge of different cultures throughout eons with the passion to discover, study and participate in life-styles and societies other than one’s own. Nowadays with rapid growing of the tourism industry and globalization, you might feel like authentic and traditional traveling destinations are hard to find, but the culturally diverse country of Iran has never faced a lack of eco-lodges.

  1. Nartitee (Taft, Yazd)

The beautiful Nartitee cottage is a Zoroastrian eco-lodge located amidst lovely pomegranate gardens. The house proudly displays countless marks left by age and history, making your stay even more of a unique experience.

  1. Noghli House (Kashan)

The peaceful atmosphere and friendly staff create a relaxing space for guests, only offering local food and sometimes if you are lucky, live playing of Iranian traditional music. You can decide to partake in making of the food, and sleep on the roof under the starry sky if the weather is kind.

Tourist Attractions in Tehran

Although Tehran is the largest city of Iran in terms of population, it is not known to be the sole touristic center of the country. There are of course, many astonishing touristic sites spread all across the whole country including historical constructions, unparalleled tile work and beautiful landscapes. But do not let that be an excuse for you to over-look all the wonders hiding in every corner of the packed city of Tehran.

Golestan Palace

The Golestan Palace, almost 4 centuries old and designated as a world heritage site, is a former Qajar complex consisting of gardens, royal buildings decorated with tile work, mirrored interior and is a homage to thrones and various gifts and crafts.

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar of Tehran, located in the ever-beating heart of the hustling city. Noticeably aged and born out of a maze of corridors, it contains anything and everything one might be looking for. The sellers are warm and hospitable- as Iranian people often are- and would gladly chat you up or offer help, if needed.

Museums

There is certainly never a shortage of museums in Tehran for the enthusiasts!

  • Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA)

Those interested in more modern aspects of Iranian arts will eventually find their way to TMoCA. The most extensive collection of Iranian modern and contemporary art gems as well as valuable contemporary art pieces from European and north American artists belonging to 19th and 20th century are all gathered in one place for visitors to study and admire.

Also, if you are interested in meeting the youthful and artistic crowd of Tehran, TMoCA is the place to go.

  • National Museum of Iran

The institution comprises two different complexes:

Museum of Ancient Iran

The exhibition showcases artifacts from the lower Paleolithic period to the Sasanian era, offering a clear view of the trajectory of history throughout thousands of years.

Museum of Islamic Archeology and Art of Iran

The artifacts and relics displayed in the neighboring complex, cover the early Islamic period up until the Qajar times.

  • Treasury of National Jewels

Priceless collections going back to the Safavid, Afsharid, Zand, Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties are stored and exhibited in the Treasury of Iranian National Jewels. The collections contain many royal belongings such as crowns and diamonds, filling visitors with awe.

Tabiat Bridge

Also known as the Nature Bridge since the word ‘Tabiat’ mean ‘nature’ in Persian, it connects two of the popular parks of Tehran spanning for 270 meters between the two. The design has won several awards despite being the work of a young designer.

The Tabiat Bridge is a great place to stop by and have a nice meal, considering the number of cafes and restaurants available there, and of course, the enjoyable view.

Tochal mountain /Tochal International Ski Resort

Anyone who has ever visited Tehran will agree that it’s hard to miss the graceful sight of the mountains rising up from the north side of the city. The Tochal mountain is a proper recreational site for those who are willing to spend some time away from all the noise in the city and reconnect with the nature instead.

A gondola lift goes up from Tehran to the Tochal ski resort, the fifth highest resort in the world, where there also is a hotel.

 

Sa’dabad Historical Complex

Sa’dabad complex built by Qajar and Pahlavi royals, includes 180 hectares of natural forest, mansions, museums, galleries and streets.

The most famous palace located in the complex would be the Green Palace, built in the Qajar era and following a combination of two different architectural styles. The prominent feature which has earned the palace its name is the green façade. Moreover, visiting the greenhouse is highly recommended due to its famous hall of mirror.

30 Tir Street Food

Right outside the gates of National Museum of Iran, you will be met with dozens of different booths lining up along both sides of 30 Tir street. The booths are colored with a variety of food and beverage and there are enough benches and seats on the side of the street for you to take a break and have a taste of your snack of choice; be it traditional Persian food, fast food, or even spicy Indian dishes or Turkish food.

Tehran Friday Market (AKA Jom’e Bazaar)

If you ever happen to spend a Friday in Tehran, and feel like exploring through one vendor’s goods and move to another for hours without feeling bored, then the Tehran Friday Market might be the place for you.

The sellers have their own way of presenting handcrafts, fabrics, local art and jewelry amongst other things, creating a kaleidoscope of bright colors, surrounding and tempting you to bring back home a cheap souvenir or two.

Just make sure to get the address right, considering that the market has recently been relocated after many years!

Shopping Centers of Tehran

Although the majority of tourists do not find shopping malls desirable to visit, many of those centers have much more than stores to offer. Iran Mall for instance –currently and by far the biggest mall in the world in terms of area- is serving as a multi-purpose complex and contains many attractions such as a traditional bazaar, a mirror hall, a car show room, 12 movie theatres and a large ice rink.

It is best that you have your smart phone map with you when you visit, considering you can easily get lost in the large area.

Azadi Tower

Azadi Tower –translating to freedom tower- is a hard-to-miss landmark of Tehran built out of marble on the Azadi square and had been designed using elements of traditional Iranian architecture. The Azadi museum with an outstanding interior is located underground, right beneath the tower and ready for visit. Around fifty art pieces of many kinds have been chosen to be displayed and every one of them is a symbol of a specific area in the Iranian history.

Niavaran Palace

Niavaran is a historical palace first used by Qajars as a summer residence during the 18th and 19th centuries (at the time merely a garden) and later became a home to Shah and Empress of Pahlavi with more constructions built on the land.

Nowadays it is open to public with a number of galleries, museums and a private library worth paying a visit for tourists interested in more recent history of Iran.

Milad Tower

No matter where you are standing in Tehran, you just have to look up and take a turn around on a sunny day in order to spot the 435-meter-long giant staring you down. The Milad tower, listed as the sixth-tallest tower in the world, is a multi-purpose complex always towering magnificently over the city of Tehran. There is an abundance of trade units (perfect for souvenirs!) and of course food courts.

Let’s not forget about the famous revolving restaurant at the top of the tower waiting to take in the VIP guests and. Furthermore, if you long for a high up view of Tehran, you can simply visit the observation deck.

Tourist Attractions in Tehran

The Milad Tower also has a Sky Park offering exciting activities at the height of 280 meters, excellent for those who enjoy height. Bungee jumping, Edge walking, Sky fly and a Glass box as well as a Sky swing are the breathtaking activities of the Sky Park.

Fortunately, a great system of public transportation has been developed in Tehran over the years. Even with the possibility of the great crowd attracting traffic in some areas, the subway enables any sightseer and tourist to easily move around the city with a low price. Buses and taxis are also to be found almost everywhere in the city.