Persian food is an iconic cuisine, and for many reasons. First off, the cuisine offers a plethora of different basmati rice-based dishes. As a long grain rice, basmati rice is the ideal type of rice for cooking these delicious dishes, as it results in greater fluffiness and a delicious aroma for the dish as a whole. While plain white basmati rice is delicious on its own, Persian rice has taken it to the next level. Oftentimes, saffron is added to the plain white basmati rice dishes, providing it with added color and taste. However, there are various Persian rice dishes which include many other additions. For example, havij polo is a Persian rice dish that includes sweetened, softened carrots and red beans. Shirin polo is a Persian rice dish that includes candied orange peels, saffron, rose water and pistachios. Adas polo is a Persian rice dish that includes lentils and sometimes raisins. There are just so many different options to choose from! Check out our take on the Top Five Persian Rice Dishes. And that’s just the rice portion of Persian food.
In addition to Persian rice dishes, there’s another aspect to the cuisine: kabobs. Kabobs are different types of meat that are grilled to perfection. The most famous types of Persian kabobs are koobideh, barg and joojeh. Each of these is truly delicious on its own, but when paired with a Persian basmati rice dish, you’ve got an absolutely perfect meal. Some people substitute the rice pairing and instead use lavash bread, wrapping the kabob inside of a thin layer of bread.
And as delicious as Persian rice dishes and kabobs truly are, Persian stews are in a class of their own. These stews represent some of Persian food’s most iconic dishes, dating back hundreds of years. Whereas some of these Persian stews were originally created in particular regions of Iran, their notoriety have since spread across not only Iran but throughout the world. With their emigration of Iran, Persians have brought their recipes with them, thus spreading the wonders of Iranian food. After having done our series on the Top Five Persian Desserts, the Top Five Persian Beverages, and the Top Five Persian Rice Dishes, we thought it was about time we showed some love to the Persian stews. The following is our list of the Top Five Persian Stews:
Number 1: Ghormeh Sabzi
Of all the Persian stews, ghormeh sabzi is probably the most iconic of them all. Filled with a medley of Middle Eastern herbs, such as parsley, chives, dill leaves, spinach, cilantro, fenugreek leaves, the stew also has red beans and hints of sun dried lime, also known as limoo omani, for added flavor. While ghormeh sabzi traditionally has meat chunks, Baaz Bites’ version of ghormeh sabzi, known as the Bean Baaz, is completely vegetarian (and also vegan)! Instead of using meat chunks, Baaz Bites’ take on ghormeh sabzi uses diced sauteed mushrooms. Ghormeh sabzi is truly one of the prides of Persian cuisine, and tastes delicious eaten on its own, poured on top of a bed of white basmati rice, or on top of tahdig.
Number 2: Fesenjan
Fesenjan is one of the most unique dishes in Persian cuisine, and rightfully so. Its slow-cooked pomegranate molasses base gives it a sweet and tart flavor, a flavor profile not found in any of the other Persian stews. Mixed in with this pomegranate molasses is pomegranate juice, butternut squash, toasted walnuts and Medjool dates, left to simmer on medium heat for hours on end for a perfect consistency. Persian food is known for being a time-intensive cuisine to prepare, and fesenjan is a case in point. Each ingredient must be proportioned perfectly and cooked for just the perfect amount of time. While some people put chicken or meat chunks in their fesenjan, this is one of the few Persian stews which can commonly be found in vegetarian form. Baaz Bites’ take on fesenjan, the Pom Baaz, is the perfect way to combine this vegetarian Persian stew on top of a bed of golden, crispy basmati rice.
Number 3: Gheymeh
At Persian restaurants, gheymeh is often the most popular Persian stew to pair with tahdig. Its tomato paste base is mixed with split peas and hints of sun-dried lime. The literal definition of gheymeh is minced or cubed meat. As such, gheymeh is not a Persian stew which is traditionally found in vegetarian form. However, like our ghormeh sabzi and fesenjan, Baaz Bites has created a vegetarian take on gheymeh, or the ‘Shroom Baaz, as we like to refer to it as. Rather than use diced meat, we use diced mushrooms, which is where we get the name ‘Shroom Baaz from! Gheymeh is the perfect craving satisfier whenever you’re in the mood for Persian food.
Number 4: Karafs
Khoresht karafs is full of delicious Middle Eastern herbs, but is often overlooked because ghormeh sabzi has a similar flavor profile and consists of some of the same ingredients. Nonetheless, unlike ghormeh sabzi, whose main ingredient is red beans, khoresht karafs’ main ingredient is celery. The key to preparing khoresht-e karafs well is getting the karafs to cook just the right amount. You don’t want it too hard, as that detracts from how well it pairs on top of a bed of basmati rice, but you also don’t want it too soft, as it become mushy and blends in with the other herbs in the stew. While we don’t currently offer khoresht karafs as one of our Persian stews, we’re always interested in hearing whether you’d be interested in seeing this as an offering.
Number 5: Beh
Khoresht beh, much like fesenjan, is on the sweeter side. It is a Persian stew that is predominantly characterized by its main ingredient, an ingredient not commonly found in other dishes, beh, or quince. Quince is a golden yellow fruit whose resemblance and texture is similar to that of an apple’s. However, in keeping with the slow-cooked tradition of Persian stews, these quince are left to cook over a prolonged period of time, thereby softening them throughout the process. Beh is not a Persian stew that you’ll likely find at your local Iranian restaurant, and is therefore best sought after at a Persian friend’s home.
Whether you’re new to Persian food or have been eating it all your life, Baaz Bites’ crispy basmati rice tahdig cups paired with our trio of vegetarian Persian stews are the perfect party appetizers or meal. Dig in!