Essential ingredients for your persian cupboard


Persian food is diverse, each corner of Iran having its own culinary preferences, culture  and tradition.


Mealtimes provide the main structure of life : breakfast ( sobhaneh) lunch( nahar) and dinner ( shaam) .  The Persian diet is healthy, nutritious and largely gluten-free so great for me as a coeliac. It uses a huge variety of fruits , nuts, lentils, vegetables, herbs and spices and many of the ingredients have medicinal values. Each meal is accompanied by a variety of herbs, Tarragon, coriander, flat leave parsley and usually naan ( flat unleavened bread) and must (natural yoghurt).  There is a tendency to use a lot of butter or ghee and oil  but  I have adapted my recipes for a healthier version, omitting unhealthy amounts of both. It stills works well and tastes delicious.

Most lunch and dinner dishes involve a meat dish of either lamb or chicken, however I do include a number of vegetarian options for the less carnivorous. See the recipe for Estamboli polou for example. There  are some ingredients and equipment that are essential for your kitchen if you want to cook persian food. Here is a list, it’s not conclusive so please send in any suggestions  you think are a must have and things you couldnt manage without.

  • ab limu ( lime juice)
  • rice (berenge)
  • ground limes
  • za’faran ( saffron)
  • zarchube ( turmeric)
  • olive oil
  • zareshk ( barbarries)
  • tomatoe paste

  • a variety of dried herbs known as ‘sabzi’
  • advieh a collection of mixed spices
  • addas ( lentils)

Equipment:

  • A heavy bottomed non stick saucepan with a lid.
  • skewers for kebab … these have to be persian skewers which are long, wide  and flat and mostly only available in Iranian grocery stores.

  • A large  mesh sieve so you dont loose your rice through the holes!
  • a rice cooker ( some say! I prefer the long method but it comes in handy) 
  • a pestle and mortar. It only needs to be a small one.
  • a good thick tea towel used to absorb the condensation created in the steaming process of cooking rice. This is wrapped and securely fastened around the lid of the pan.
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