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.
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.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.