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16 Dishes That Reveal the Pleasures of Persian Food

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The cuisine of Iran and its diaspora is more aromatic and rich than any I know. It pivots around the flavors of saffron, nigella seeds, cardamom, turmeric, dried raisins, and, my personal favorite, rosewater—in other words, the kinds of ingredients that inspire people to write about food.

Still, Iranian cuisine’s pleasures strike me as too frequently unsung. The food of Iran, its history stretching back centuries and impressing itself on other cuisines across the globe ("Mughal" cuisine, served in so many Indian restaurants, is derivative of Persian cooking), is so much more textured than hearty kebabs and fluffy pilafs.

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I suspect that, in the ensuing years, Iranian cuisine's champions will have to fight even harder to advocate for and preserve its beauty, as its very purpose—along with the culture of Iran, and the value of its history—comes under attack. Here are some of my favorite Iranian dishes we have in our archive.

Kuku Sibzamini (Persian-Style Saffron & Potato Fritters)

Kuku Sibzamini (Persian-Style Saffron & Potato Fritters) by shayma

Mast-o-Khiar (Persian-Style Cucumber Dip)

Mast-o-Khiar (Persian-Style Cucumber Dip) by shayma

Yoghurt & Spinach Dip, 'Borani Esfanaaj', in the Persian Manner
Yoghurt & Spinach Dip, 'Borani Esfanaaj', in the Persian Manner
Nan-e Barbari (Persian Flatbread)
Nan-e Barbari (Persian Flatbread)
Fresh Herb Platter (Sabzi Khordan)

Fresh Herb Platter (Sabzi Khordan) by Louisa Shafia

Yogurt and Beet Salad in the Persian Manner

Yogurt and Beet Salad in the Persian Manner by shayma

Persian Lamb in Pomegranate Quince sauce
Persian Lamb in Pomegranate Quince sauce
Iranian/Persian Fesenjoon (walnut and pomegranate dish) with Rice
Iranian/Persian Fesenjoon (walnut and pomegranate dish) with Rice
Parvin’s Tamarind-Stuffed Fish
Parvin’s Tamarind-Stuffed Fish
Beef Kofte and Shirazi Salad

Beef Kofte and Shirazi Salad by Louisa Shafia

Eggplant and Tomato Stew with Pomegranate Molasses

Eggplant and Tomato Stew with Pomegranate Molasses by Louisa Shafia

Lamb Kebabs in Pomegranate-Walnut Marinade

Lamb Kebabs in Pomegranate-Walnut Marinade by Louisa Shafia

Persian New Year's Noodle Soup

Persian New Year's Noodle Soup by Gena Hamshaw

Rice with Favas and Dill (Baghali Polo)
Rice with Favas and Dill (Baghali Polo)
Saffron-Infused Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard), in the Persian Manner
Saffron-Infused Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard), in the Persian Manner
Ajil-e Moshkel Gosha (Problem Solving Nuts)
Ajil-e Moshkel Gosha (Problem Solving Nuts)

This article originally ran on January 30, 2017, but we're republishing it today in observance of Norooz.

What's your favorite Persian dish? Let us know in the comments.

Tags: persian, iranian