In Iran we fully believe in the power of hot and cold foods, much like the chinese do. In fact legend has it that our ancient ancestors shared this food knowledge with the chinese , but we won’t get into that here! Iranians believe that food is fuel and either weakens or strengthens the body and these beliefs go way back to ancient times and originate from the Zoroastrian religion.
THE THINKING BEHIND THE THEORY
The description ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ doesn’t relate to the temperature of the food but rather to the effect the food has on your body. Everything we eat is broken down by enzymes in our stomachs and that has an effect on our cells and ultimately on how we function. Enzymes react to ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ food. For example, ‘cold’ food like cucumber or Salad Olivieh slows down the digestive process, which in turn slows us down, requiring us to expend additional energy to continue digestion and will lead to feeling sluggish or tired. On the other hand, ‘hot’ food speeds up the digestive process, increases our metabolic rate and we are more alert and ready to take up our busy lives.
Our bodies need a balance of both ‘hot and ‘cold’ food to function at their best. So for example when I make salad Olivieh, I decorate it with a ‘hot’ food, like walnuts or add carrots . Another example is Khoresht e Feseenjun where the two main ingredients are pomegranate ( cold) and walnuts (hot). Salad is made more balanced by adding herbs, which are hot. Rice is ‘cold’ which is why we eat our khoreshts or stews spiced with saffron and turmeric, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon, salt and pepper. And you thought it was just to make it taste delicious! Rose-water is ‘hot’ and sugar is cold, which is why our sweet dishes like Nan e Berenji use rose-water. Yoghurt is cold which is why we add mint! Lamb and chicken kebab with rice …. Get the idea! It’s about creating a balance, or making what we eat neutral.
There are times when we need to eat ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ food like when we have colds and illness. I’ll save that for another post.
- All herbs except coriander
- All spices except sumac
- Chicken and lamb
- Dairy is generally cold, except goats cheese which is neutral, Kashk which is hot and ghee.
- Most nuts
- Wheat flour
- chick peas, yellow split peas.
- Most vegetables except: carrots, radish, okra, onions, garlic, red and green peppers,
- Most fruit except apples, dates, quince.
- kidney beans, lentils
- Goats cheese