Side dishes play a vital role in Iranian cuisine, enhancing the flavors of the main dishes with their unique tastes. From refreshing salads to marinated vegetables and yogurt mixes, Iranian side dishes offer a delightful culinary experience. While appetizers are not commonly consumed as main dishes in Iran due to the large portions, they are still served in some restaurants. Whether you’re exploring the classic soups and salads or indulging in traditional Iranian appetizers like Kuku and Dolma, the variety of flavors will amaze you. Here is a list of the top 10 Iranian appetizers and side dishes that you must try.
1. Shirazi Salad
Shirazi Salad is a beloved Iranian salad that accompanies most Iranian dishes. Originally from Shiraz, this healthy salad combines chopped onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs, seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon juice, verjuice, and olive oil. It pairs perfectly with mixed rice dishes like Loobia Polo and stews like Gheymeh.
Torshi is a pickled side dish made by marinating chopped carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, and herbs in a mixture of salt, pepper, and vinegar, allowing them to ferment for a few weeks. There are various types of Torshi available, ranging in the size of chopped vegetables and the level of sourness or spiciness. Each region in Iran has its own unique variation, creating a diverse array of flavors.
Shoor is another popular Iranian side dish made by marinating vegetables in saltwater. It is a time-consuming process that results in a flavorful and tangy side dish. Shoor can be enjoyed alongside many Iranian dishes, complementing their flavors.
4. Zeytun Parvardeh (Persian Marinated Olives)
Zeytun Parvardeh, a popular side dish originally from the northern cities of Iran, such as Rasht and Rudbar, involves marinating olives in a mixture of walnuts, pomegranate sauce, dried pomegranate, lemon juice, thyme powder, peppermint powder, and olive oil. The combination of flavors creates a unique and delicious experience.
Yogurt holds a special place in Iranian cuisine. It is a popular dairy product that provides the body with essential calcium. Iranians often enhance the flavor of yogurt by adding ingredients such as spinach, cucumber, and eggplants. Mast o Khiar, a famous Iranian yogurt dish, combines yogurt, grated cucumber, salt, and aromatic herbs. These healthy and delicious yogurt mixes are a favorite among Iranians.
6. Kashk-e Bademjan
Kashk, a special Iranian dairy product, is made by boiling fat-free yogurt. It has a salty and sometimes sour taste and is commonly served with Ash, an Iranian soup. Kashk-e Bademjan, a traditional Iranian dish, features eggplants, Kashk, and onions, making it a delightful vegetarian option.
7. Mirza Ghasemi
Mirza Ghasemi is a vegetarian dish originating from northern Iran. This delicious combination of chopped garlic, fried eggplants, and tomatoes is often served with bread or rice. The unique fusion of flavors created by the eggplants and garlic leaves a lasting impression. Mirza Ghasemi can be enjoyed as both a main dish or appetizer.
8. Dolmeh Barg-e Mo, Dolme (Dolma)
Dolma is a popular Iranian dish where vegetables are stuffed with minced meat, rice, tomato paste, split peas, and other ingredients, then coiled. There are several types of Dolma in Iran, including Dolme Kalam (cabbage Dolma), bell pepper Dolma, tomato Dolma, potato Dolma, eggplant Dolma, and grape leaves (Barg-e mo) Dolma. The grape leaves Dolma is the most renowned variant and is often made with fresh grape leaves during spring.
9. Kuku Sabzi
Kuku is an Iranian dish made with whipped eggs and smashed potatoes, herbs, or eggplants. It resembles the Italian frittata and is commonly eaten with bread. Kuku Sabzi, one of the most beloved types of Kuku in Iran, can be served as a side dish or a main dish when paired with bread. It is adored by students for its quick preparation time and includes a variety of herbs that vary across regions, along with eggs, walnuts, and barberries. Kuku Sabzi is also a delightful vegetarian option.
10. Persian Bread
Bread holds immense prominence in Iranian cuisine, often replacing rice as the main accompaniment to dishes. It is an essential element of breakfast, served with butter, jam, honey, cream, or cheese. While common bread types like baguette and toast can be found in Iran, the traditional Iranian flatbreads steal the show. Made with wheat flour and baked in large dome-shaped ovens, these breads fill the air with a delightful aroma. Barbari, Sangak, Taftoon, and Lavash are among the most popular types of Iranian flatbread, a must-try for every traveler in Iran.
To explore more about Iranian cuisine and discover delightful recipes, visit Ratingperson, your ultimate guide to the world of flavors.
Remember, great food brings people together, so gather your loved ones and embark on a culinary adventure through the vibrant Iranian appetizers and side dishes.