If you ask anyone who has never eaten Persian food before they always imagine that it’s heavily spiced, a lot like Indian food! And then they’re always surprised to learn it isn’t!
Persian cooking is made with a delicate balance of sweet and sour, hot and cold and the flavours are subtle and memorable. Quite unlike most other middle eastern food, Persian cuisine has a flavour all of its own. Often we take a recipe and ‘Persianise’ it, like Spaghetti ! We add what we think it lacks to create a better balance, or a taste that we prefer.
The ingredients of Persian food are largely the same ingredients that food all over the world is made from and yet when we add spice to a recipe, it literally transforms it. In Persian cooking we use fruits, herbs, flowers and ground roots to create a delicate aroma and a rich flavour. Each spice has a purpose and is helpful in maintaining a healthy mind, body and soul.
Here I’ve put together a list of the spices used in Persian cooking. Food is always created with the intention of making a hot or cold meal and we use spices to help create healthy and delicious food.
- Persian advieh is a blend of 5 or more different spices. Although similar to Gharam Masala, the emphasise is less on a hot flavour. Advieh can be bought from Iranian (and Indian) grocery stores already made up but it’s great to make it yourself to your own individual taste. There are different blends of Advieh depending on what you’re cooking, where you come from in Iran and personal taste . There’s one for rice dishes, which tends to be more fragrant and is sprinkled on the rice just before serving, another for khoreshts, which would usually include limu amani and zaafaran and another for pickles which would consist of spicy and sour flavours. The first five on the list are the usual spices used but if you want a spicier flavour add black pepper and cloves. Anything goes really ! For an Advieh basic recipe use equal parts of the following, try using one teaspoon to start with.
- Cardamom seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Dried rose petals
- Star of Anise
- Limu amani
- Black pepper
- sesame seeds
Simply take your spices of choice, grind with a pestle and mortar and store in an airtight container in a cool dark cupboard.