For all Iranian lunches and dinners, certain accompanying dishes and side plates (“mokhalafat”) are considered essential. These include:
– Sabzi – A plate of fresh herbs including basil, coriander, cilantro, fenugreek, Persian watercress and tarragon.
– Naan – Persian flat bread
– Panir – A Persian variety of cheese, somewhat similar to feta.
– Khiyarshur – Persian pickles.
– Torshi – Relishes.
– Cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, onions, yogurt and lime juice.
Additionally, Persian meals are traditionally accompanied with tea (“chai”) which is served with breakfast, and both before and after lunch and dinner, as well as throughout the day.
Rice is a popular dish in Iran, having been brought, it is believed, to the country in ancient times from India or perhaps Southeast Asia. There are several ways in which rice may be prepared in Persian cuisine, but perhaps the best-known is “Chelow” the rice is soaked and partially boiled, the water is then drained and the rice steamed, resulting in very fluffy rice with a golden crust at the bottom of the pot.
Some other well-known Iranian dishes include:
– Abgousht – Beef and vegetable stew.
– Fesenjan – A sweet and sour pomegranate-walnut stew, traditionally made with either chicken or duck.
– Shirin Polo – This is a traditional wedding dish, consisting of rice with slivered orange peels, slivered almonds and pistachio nuts.
– Chelo Kabab – The most famous Iranian dish of all. Chelo Kabab is marinated charcoal-grilled lamb served over rice.