Explore Iran Trough Food: A Tasty Adventure in Culture

If you’re reading this, it means you’re definitely planning to come to Iran. You’re probably looking for something more than just the usual tourist experience. You want to truly immerse yourself in Iran’s culture, like enjoying a delicious experience. Maybe you even want to bring a little piece of Iran back with you, like learning to cook a tasty Iranian dish.

As mentioned, the way Iranians cook is part of their diverse culture, just like many other traditions in Iran. This vibrant culture is spread across all cities and provinces, much like the unique landscapes and weather found throughout the country. Just as there are different Ethnics, like Turks, Lurs, Kurds, Balochis, Gilakis, and more in each area of Iran, you’ll find a variety of foods and flavors. Southerners derive their share from the sea, northers rely on the blessings of the sky for their fields, and the east is influenced by neighboring countries, while the west follows the culinary patterns of Mesopotamian lands. 

Iran is a haven for food lovers, with a wide variety of spices. Spices are so important in Iran that there once existed a lively route known as the Spice Road. Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is grown in Iran. Lots of Iranian dishes and sweets earn top global rankings, climbing higher each year. Now, with a fresh perspective on Iranian cuisine, take a new look at this country. If you want to be part of this joy and help share Iranian food culture worldwide, join me, and let’s enjoy the flavors of Iranian culture together.

In the heart of Iran, in Shiraz—a city that cradles peace and beauty in the gentle passage of time, where streets are designed with charmed flowers and the sweet tunes of singing birds, inviting the heart to moments of poetry and love—Gardeshgaran Group invites you to join a unique culinary journey and be our “Hamsafar-e- Sofreh which” means the Table Companion”. In Iranian Culture we call the table cloth ” Sofreh” and we lay it down on the ground. Sofreh  holds a special place in Iranian culture. This is where the respect for guests, considered as special and divinely favored, shines brightly. The presence of guests is honored as cherished individuals, creating a sense of unity and intimate connection. It also provides an opportunity to share delightful moments with companions. In essence, Sofreh in Iran not only has a social significance but also symbolizes affection and friendship, displaying its unique warmth in the heart of every home.

This is more than a journey about food; it’s filled with laughter, tasty secrets, and the genuine hospitality of Persian homes. As you arrive at this garden, you’ll find its doors wide open to welcome you. The host greets you warmly, welcoming your entry by waving the smoke of Espand—an aromatic plant in Iranian culture used to remove negative energies and evil spirits, a longstanding tradition. The place you’re invited to is a school for learning about tourism. It’s a spot where people can get the education, they need to work in the tourism industry. They cover things like travel and tours, hospitality, and cooking too.

Imagine stepping into a cozy Iranian home, greeted with a refreshing drink. The air carries a sweet scent, making the evening feel warm and welcoming. In this garden, the cooking class becomes a fun and creative experience. Skilled hands guide you through the art of Persian cooking, sharing secrets that make the flavors unique and special.

As our guest, you are highly cherished and valued in our culture. We see guests as friends of God, beloved individuals. But we’d like you to think of this place as your home. Let’s work together to create a vibrant table, hand in hand.

Visiting Iran during Ramadan – Traditional Cuisine and Sweets!

Invited to God’s fiesta? Ramadhan is known to be the month of God’s feast, while the guests are believers who fast. Fasting, literally meaning to prevent eating in a period of the day, is a part of almost all religions! Based on Islam, Muslims should fast during the month of Ramazan/Ramadhan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar.

People in Iran believe that fasting is not all about starving oneself, it’s even more about being gentle, unselfish, and putting a stop to evil deeds! So in Ramadhan, giving away food, money as well as giving a party is pretty common.

How to break a fast like an Iranian? What to eat first at Iftar time?

When the sun sets and the first star shows up in sky, it’s the perfect time to break the fast!

Just like breakfast, the first thing you eat after hours of having nothing is very important for your health! In Iran, a warm beverage like hot rosewater, chicory sweat, and eglantine sweat is one of the best options which is accompanied by dates, Ranginak or Zulbia Bamiyeh! You know what dates are, but how about Ranginak and Zulbia Bamiyeh?

Ranginak is a mixture of date with some walnuts, pistachio, or both served with a special sauce of flour, coconut powder, cinnamon, and cardamom! So delicious and sweet! Iranian eat Ranginak with tea and as a side dish!

Zulbia Bamiyeh are actually two different sweets that normally come together! They are made mainly by farina, baking soda, eggs, rose water and saffron! It’s good to mention that it contains a lot of sugar!

After breaking fast with the warm beverage and the sweet, people say “may god accept (our good deeds) “, as congratulating each other for another day of fasting for Allah sake.  

What is next?

Since the Iftar time is right the same time to practice the 4th and 5th Salah of the day, it’s optional to pray first or eat dinner!

At home, some people, prefer to eat dinner first then practice Namaz (Salah)! While at mosques and by people who are more religious, they perform Salah first, and then they have dinner!

Putting the table! One by one the dinner table is filled with advance prepared cuisine, different side dishes, desert, and even fruits!

The best food inspiration ever!

What are the main Iranian dishes for Iftar in Ramazan holy month?

Foods of Ramadan used to be very simple like different kinds of Ash! Ash is a wealthy kind of soup with different kinds of beans! However, in traditional Persian sofrah fresh bread, vegetables, yogurt, pickles, halwa, and even fruits give a variety of choices to food lovers!

Ramadan Rituals and Special Tradition

One of the most famous rituals of Ramadan is “Laylatol Qadr”, meaning the night of value!

What is Night of Value?

It’s said in Quran that the Quran verses were revealed to Mohammad the prophet at the night of value! So at this night Muslims stay awake at night, recite Quran and pray. 

The night of value is known to be an odd night of the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan! Muslims of Shitte relation and Sunni relation stay awake and pray in different dates!

Shitte relations believe on 23rd night of Ramadan, but also praying on the 19th and 21st of Ramadan.

And Sunni people believe on 27th night of Ramadan, but usually praying all last 10 nights of Ramadan.

Laylatol Ghadr (The night of value) is so important in Iran that some government organizations, companies, and even schools start a few hours later than usual in the morning so that people can get enough rest after the whole night praying.

At Laylatol Qadr, people gather at shrines, mosques, universities, parks, personal houses, and etc, to pray together.

Popular Foods To Eat In Iran; 10 Persian Dishes You Must Try!

Iran’s gastronomy has a traditional and historical background which has influenced the food culture of different regions! The popular cuisine of the north is best to serve in northern cities and the nomadic food of Turks is best to be experienced with Turkish nomads! Thus, it’s good to know the best dishes you must try in Iran and where to eat!

Here you can find 10 top dishes you must try in Iran!

Overlook on Iranian food and Drinks you can find here; Iran Food and Drink Guide!

If you are interested in Iran culinary tours and food activities, check out Iran Food Tour.

1. Kalam Polo Shirazi with Meatballs!

Kalam Polo is the traditional food of Shiraz, it’s a mixture of fried meatballs and cabbage with rice! It’s a delicious cuisine served with Shirazi Salad! And sometimes with herbal beverages!

Where to eat Kalam Polo Shirazi?

Haftkhan Restaurant complex is one of the best places you can eat Kalam Polo! However, there are other restaurants like Qavam Restaurant, Soofi chain restaurants, or Shater Abbas Restaurant, where you can order Kalam Polo!

Vegetarian/ Vegan tip: This food doesn’t contain stew and sometimes you can ask the restaurant to bring the meatballs in a separate plate for you! There are always hungry cats on the street to enjoy the meatballs!

2. Beryani! Eat Isfahan!

Everyone knows Isfahan with Biryani!

Biryani is an Isfahani food cooked with lamb and tail fat! So delicious and tasty!

Best restaurants to eat Biryani in Isfahan are Azam Biryani and Haj Mahmoud Biryani.

3. Tah chin

A freelancer in Food world! Originated in no specific place in Iran! Although one of the most popular cuisines!

Tahchin is a kind of Rice cake, with chicken/lamb, saffron yogurt and fried barberry! Once you try it you’ll be a big fan!

You can have Tahchin in almost all traditional restaurants; like Hestooran restaurant of Tehran, Kohan Restaurant in Shiraz, Khangostar Restaurant in Isfahan.

Not vegetarian friendly! But if you plan to cook it at home you can use fried eggplants instead of chicken and it’ll taste good!

4. Ghormeh Sabzi

One of a kind food that its smell fills your head and you cannot forget about! Ghormeh Sabzi is a stew with lamb, fenugreek leaves, beans, and Persian limes and it’s served with rice.

In Ramadhan and other religious events, some give away Ghormeh Sabzi for good. Iranian believe giving away food (normally to poor people) will make their wish come true!

However the best Ghormeh Sabzi is homemade, you can have a tasty Ghormeh Sabzi at good traditional restaurants all over Iran. Like; Divan restaurant in Tehran, Parhami Traditional House in Shiraz, Isfahan Shahrzad Restaurant.

5. Falafel

A typical street food, a great option for vegetarians!!!

Falafel is originally an Arabic cuisine. Abadan, one of the southern cities of Iran is known to have the best Falafel in Iran. Though in other cities you can also find this inviting food. 

6. Kebab in Iran!

Kebab is a regular dish at the Iranian restaurants menu! If you enjoy eating meats that are separately served, like steaks, you would probably love Kebab as well.

It’s always good to know the difference between kinds of Persian Kebab to have the best choice:

Joojeh kebab: Pieces of chicken meat with or without bones.

Koobideh Kebab: Ground chicken or lamb meat.

Soltani Kebab: A mixture of beef kebab and chicken kebab.

Sour Kebab: Chicken Kebab served with pomegranate juice and walnuts.

Chenjeh Kebab: fresh lamb meat which is cut in cubic forms.

All kinds of Kebab can be served with rice or bread.

You can have a great kebab all over Iran! Yet, talking about the best place to have kebab in Iran, the northern part of Tehran, in Darband springs to mind.

7. Ash Reshteh!

It’s what everyone needs in cold winters! Ash Reshteh is a kind of soup, a rich source of vegetable protein, and the best option for wintertime!

Rice noodles, herbs, peas, beans, and sour yogurt the main ingredients of Ash Reshteh.

Is it Vegetarian? Sometimes people cook Ash Reshteh with meat, sometimes only with the meat stew and sometimes with none! 

You can have well-cooked Ash Reshteh at some popular restaurants or small café shops, like Hestooran restaurant in Tehran, Qavam restaurant in Shiraz! Ash Reshteh might be a seasonal meal of the menu. So better to ask first!

8. Yum-yum! Fesenjan Stew!

Same as Saffron, Pomegranate is also frequently used in Persian dishes. Fesenjan is a stew based with pomegranate juice! Chicken/lamb and walnut are other ingredients.

Stew and rice always come together and make a delightful combination.

Nayeb Restaurant in Tehran, Kohan restaurant in Shiraz, Naghshe Jahan Restaurant in Isfahan.

9. Dizi or Abgousht!

The traditional food made in stone crock pots, a unique cuisine of Iran! Abgousht literally means meat stew, but it’s not all lamb! It is accompanied with chickpeas, tomato, potato, garlic, and turmeric.

There are some restaurants that only serve Dizi like Dizi Sara Restaurant in Tehran.

10. La Poloyi

La Poloyi is a traditional Persian Nomads Cuisine! A mixture of rice, pieces of chicken or meat! One of the most delicious food you can have in Iran!

It’s better to have La Poloyi by Qashqai nomads of Iran, yet in some restaurants, you can enjoy having La Poloyi food.

If you like to have such experience by nomads in Iran, approach us!

Iranian Vegetarian Food Guide – What to Eat and Where?

Is it reasonable to travel to Iran as a vegan or vegetarian? Can vegetarians survive in Iran? Absolutely! Visiting Iran as a vegetarian will limit your menu but it’s of course possible by considering a few guides!

There are lots of Iranian vegetarian cuisine and meatless food, but unfortunately, most of them are missed at the restaurant menu.

Still, you have our guide to travel in Iran and keep your vegetarian diet.

Vegetarian meals on Menu! What dishes can I order at a restaurant as a vegetarian?

Vegetarian Food that you can find at traditional restaurants:

  • Kashke Bademjan: Fried eggplant with onion and yogurt
  • Ash Reshteh: Rice noodles, beans, herbs (sometimes mixed with meat, please ask before the order)
  • Seasonal Salad:
  • Shrimp and Rice
  • Fried Shrimps
  • Fish Kebab with Rice
  • Fried Fish with Rice
  • Herbal rice and Fish

Vegetarian Food at Iran Fast Foods:

  • Vegetable Pizza: Fast foods are creative in choosing what kind of vegetable! And there is no special recipe for this.
  • Garlic bread: It’s either a kind of Pizza dough with garlic and cheese or fried bread with garlic sauce!
  • Fried Mushrooms / French fries! We know they are not an official meal, but they are tasty for sure!


Iran’s street food for Vegetarians:

  • Potato Samboose: Potato and herbs wrapped in the fried bread
  • Falafel: chickpeas, herbs, garlic, spices served with bread, pickles, tomato

Where do Vegetarians can eat in Iran? Are there any Vegan/ Veg. Friendly Restaurants in Iran?

Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Tehran:

  1. Zamin Vegan Restaurant (+982188373924)

Serves Vegan Fast-food, western cuisine, dessert, and beverages

  1. Ananda Vegetarian Restaurant (+982122556767)

Serves Vegetarian Fast-food and veggie western cuisine

  1. Iranian Artist Forum Veggie Restaurant (+982188310462)

Serves Vegetarian Fast-food

  1. Noon Slowfood (+982166767502)

Serves Vegetarian food

Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Isfahan:

  1. Zima Vegetarian Restaurant (+983132666254)

Serves Vegetarian Fast-food

Bandar Abbas Vegetarian/ Vegan Restaurant:

  1. Kaj Veganism restaurant (+989179809610)

They offer Persian cuisine in a vegan style!

  1. Kinowa Vegan Restaurant (+989371337242)

A vegan restaurant nearby Haghani port.

Other Veggie restaurants or with vegan/vegetarian options:

  1. Mehre Mitra Vegetarian Restaurants (+989123478303)

Location: Lavasan, Tehran Province

They normally use Mushrooms or Soya Instead of meat with Persian cuisine recipes

  1. Qavam Cafe Restaurant (+987132359271)

Location: Shiraz, Fars province

They have vegetarian Persian cuisine in the menu

  1. Dragon Chinese Restaurant (+987132286074)

Location: Shiraz, Fars Province

They have vegetarian cuisine in the menu

*Some of these veggie restaurants are local and small, so please call before showing up to make sure about their working hours

Persian Homemade food for Vegetarians:

There are lots of Persian foods which are certainly the ones you would enjoy to have and they are meatless! You can have them maybe in cozy local restaurants/ family-run restaurant, by a Persian family or you can easily make them at home! We name them here for your information and we will send you their recipes if you like to.

  • Adas Polo ba Keshmesh via Gerdu: Rice with lentils, raisins, and walnut!
  • Dal Adas: A spicy dish of lentils and shallots.
  • Estanbuli Polo/Loobia polo (without meat): rice and green beans
  • Albalu polo (Without meatballs): Brewed rice with nuts, saffron, boiled sour cherry
  • Morasa polo (without chicken/meatballs): Brewed rice with nuts, saffron, jam, cooked carrot
  • Eshkeneh: A mixture of herbs, water, eggs
  • Kuku Sabzi: The mixture of vegetables and eggs
  • KuKu Sibzamini: The mixture of potato and eggs
  • Kate Gojeh: brewed rice with tomato and potato
  • Samboose: Vegetable Pizza
  • Lubia Garm: boiled Beans with mushrooms
  • Dopiazeh: Mixture fried potato and onion
  • Yatimcheh: Mixture of fried tomato, garlic, and zucchini

Veganism in Iran!

The new generation in Iran is more or less familiar with vegetarian diet and there are vegetarian restaurants or veggie cuisine options on some menus! However, the concept of vegan is mostly common in Tehran, the capital! To survive in Iran as a true vegan you may need to take it easy sometime and maybe switch to a vegetarian diet especially in small towns.

Please check out the mentioned vegan restaurants or ask our agent to know about vegan restaurants in your particular travel destination.

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