Persian food is an incredibly diverse cuisine. There are tons of different stews, meats, and rices that are all instrumental parts of Persian cuisine. As such, it’s difficult coming up with a top ten list of the most popular and delicious Persian meals. However, we’ve managed to come up with a list of our top ten favorites. Please don’t tell the other delicious Persian dishes that we didn’t include them on this list.
Number 1: Tadig
No Persian meal is ever a proper Persian meal if there isn’t tadig served alongside it. Tadig is crispy rice at its finest. Literally translating from Farsi to English as “bottom of the pot,” tadig is the crispy, golden layer of basmati rice that forms at the bottom of the pot as a result of oil and hints of saffron sizzling together to crispen a thin layer of basmati rice. It is truly Persian food at its finest. It can either be served on its own, on top of a bed of basmati rice, or with a Persian stew poured on top.
While tadig is traditionally served as a flat bed of crispy basmati rice, Baaz Bites decided to mix it up for a couple reasons. By converting tadig into crispy rice cup form, we’re able to 1) increase tadig output; 2) allow people to simply pop it in the oven and prepare it at home for themselves and 3) get a chewy inner layer of basmati rice to perfectly complement the outside crispy rice. Check out Baaz Bites’ take on tadig here.
Number 2: Ghormeh Sabzi
The crown jewel of Persian food, and often referred to as the emblematic dish of Persian cuisine, ghormeh sabzi is on a level of its own. The stew consists of a medley of Middle Eastern herbs, including parsley, chives, dill leaves, spinach, cilantro, and fenugreek leaves. The green base is traditionally mixed with red beans and chunks of meat for added protein, while hints of sun dried lime give added flavor to the entire stew. Baaz Bites’ version of ghormeh sabzi uses sauteed mushrooms instead of meat, resulting in a flavor-filled vegan Persian stew, something not found very often. Check out Baaz Bites’ vegetarian version of ghormeh sabzi, or the Bean Baaz, here.
Number 3: Sabzi Polo
If you thought plain white long grain basmati rice on its own was incredible, just wait until you try sabzi polo. Truly makes basmati rice feel royal. And if you guessed that this rice must be green given that it contains sabzi just like ghormeh sabzi, you’re absolutely correct. Look at you learning Farsi! This rice contains cilantro, parsley, chives and dill and is a Persian New Year, or Nowruz, classic. We’re thinking of launching our plain white basmati rice Baaz Bites base in a sabzi polo variety? Any interest?! Let us know here.
Number 4: Fesenjan
Oh good old fesenjan. What did we do to deserve you? This stew is extremely unique, as it is one of the few Persian stews that is sweet and tart as opposed to savory. A slow-cooked pomegranate molasses mixes perfectly with toasted walnuts, Medjool dates and butternut squash to make for out-of-this-world flavors. Fesenjan pairs particularly well with tadig, and you can find our modern take on that Persian classic here.
Number 5: Gheymeh
Rounding up the Persian stew trifecta is gheymeh. Gheymeh is one of the more savory, filling stews, perfect if you’re craving some Persian food. A warm, rich tomato paste base blends perfectly with split peas, diced mushrooms and hints of sun dried limes. Gheymeh is one of the more time-intensive stews to prepare, given the need to slow cook the split peas at moderate warmth for a prolonged period of time. You can learn all about gheymeh’s cultural and historical significance here.
Number 6: Albaloo Polo
Albaloo polo, like sabzi polo, is another incredible remix on traditional plain white basmati rice. However, albaloo polo is extremely unique in its own right. Unlike sabzi polo, which is green, albaloo polo is red and yellow. Albaloo translates to cherry, or more specifically morello cherry, a type of sour cherry. The rice also contains advieh, a Persian spice mix made with several aromatic spices. Some people add pistachios to their version of this rice to give it an added crunch. This saffron-filled cherry rice has just the right amount of sourness and the perfect amount of deliciousness.
Number 7: Salad Shirazi
Persian food likes to lay claim to salad shirazi as its own despite other ethnicities having made versions of this salad and called it their own. It’s one of the most basic Persian dishes, but pairs perfectly with any main course, whether its a rice, stew or kabob. Diced cucumbers, tomatoes and onions are mixed together and drizzled with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. So simple and yet so delicious. For added flavor, some even throw in pieces of dried mint! Salad Shirazi is named after the Iranian city of Shiraz, located in the south west of Iran and a popular springtime destination for its incredible floral blooms.
Number 8: Kabob
If the Persian stews make up one camp of Iranian food, the kabobs are what round out Persian food as a whole. Joojeh kabob is a traditional Persian chicken kabob, in which chicken pieces are marinated and cooked with a saffron and lemon juice marinade (can you tell that Persians are a fan of their saffron?). Kabob Barg and Koobideh are beef-based kabobs that pair perfectly with lavash bread. While Team Baaz Bites thinks the stews and tadig represent Persian food at its finest, kabob definitely deserves its credit.
Number 9: Mast-o khiar
Mast-o khiar, like Salad Shirazi, is another side dish and one where many different ethnicities have sought to lay claim over. Mast translates to yogurt and khiar translates to cucumber. However, Persian mast-o khiar is so much more than Greek tzatziki. Persian mast-o khiar uses a thicker yogurt, and often includes dill as well. Add some salt and pepper for added flavor. Mast-o khiar pairs perfectly with potato chips as an afternoon snack.
Number 10: Havij Polo
And last, but definitely not least - havij polo. Havij polo, like sabzi and albaloo polo, is another basmati rice based dish with some incredible inclusions. While the main inclusion is havij (or carrots), the rice also includes beans (either red or green beans). These carrots are no regular carrots, however. They’re often cooked with sugar, given them added sweetness and taste. Also, since they’re cooked nearly twice and for a prolonged period of time, the carrots end up coming out soft when finally served. Some individuals also throw in cinnamon for added taste.
This list is by no means all inclusive of what Persian food includes. There are a ton of different stew, rice, side dish and dessert options.
Whether you’re interested in ordering vegetarian frozen Persian food and having it shipped directly to you, learning more about the history behind some of these Persian classics, or reaching out to our head chef, Nancy, for any recipes inquiries, head over to the Baaz Bites website now!