As you may know, one of the oldest civilizations in the world is the Persian. The civilization traces its roots to pre-Christian times, and was among other things was responsible for the Cyrus Cylinder (539 BCE), the world’s first charter of human rights, as well as the building of many roads, monuments and cities. The modern nation or Iran traces its roots back to ancient Persia, and in fact was known as Persia until 1935. The country changed its name to Iran in 1935 on the order of then ruler, Reza Shah, but in 1953, Mohammad Reza Shah (the son of Reza Shah) stated that the names of Iran and Persia were equally acceptable.
Persian cuisine is known for its delicate use of mixed spices, the variety of side plates (“mokhalafat”) used to enhance meals, the serving of rice as an accompaniment with many dishes, and the popularity of tea (known in Iran as “chai”):
* Mokhalafat are side plates used to accompany meals. There are a wide variety of such side plates that may be used, and they are generally consider to be an important, even essential part of the meal. Popular mokhalafat include khiyarshur (pickles), naan (Iranian flat unleavened bread), panir (Iranian cheese similar to feta), sabzi (a plate of mixed herbs), and torshi (relishes).
* Rice is eaten with many meals and can be prepared in a variety of different ways. Perhaps the best known Iranian style is “chelow”, in which rice is part boiled and then steamed – resulting in very fluffy rice with a golden crust at the bottom of the pot.
* Chai, Iranian tea, is drank with most meals, and throughout the day generally.
Some popular Iranian recipes include:
* Chelo Kabab – Lamb, marinated and then cooked over a charcoal grill. Chelo kebab is traditionally eaten with rice.
* Abgousht – A stew made from beef with vegetables.
* Fesenjan – A sweet and sour stew made from chicken or duck. Fesenjan is flavored with walnuts and pomegranate.