This is the ultimate guide to the best traditional Persian recipes. Plus, an introduction to the spices and flavor combinations that define Persian cooking. I want to help you successfully cook and enjoy the incredible flavors of classic Persian food!
An introduction to Persian food
Persian recipes are all about balance. Every dish is designed to contain a balance of flavors that complement one another – you will see meat, fruit, dried herbs, and nuts combined in unique ways. The dishes are well-flavored and spiced, but not 'spicy'.
Some ingredients are staples in a Persian pantry, like dried limes, saffron, rice, pomegranate molasses, and Persian 7 spice, called Advieh. If you're looking to stock up on these, I recommend checking out your local Middle Eastern market. The prices will be much less expensive there than buying them online.
Garm and sard in Persian cooking
We have a concept in Persian cuisine that some foods are warming (garmi) and others are cooling (sardi). These categories don't necessarily refer to the flavor or the spice level of the food, but rather the essence.
The idea is that too much of either would trigger a negative reaction from our bodies. The goal is to eat Garm and Sard foods in balanced proportions to create harmony in the body. You see this harmony thoughtfully created in many Persian recipes.
A tradition of entertaining
Showing love for others through food is an important part of Persian culture, and there's always an abundance of amazing food and Persian recipes at a Persian dinner party!
Entertaining others in your home and showing your appreciation and hospitality through food is a valued tradition.
Persian Jewish vs non-Jewish recipes
Some Persian recipes look very different in Jewish and non-Jewish homes. This is because many Jewish people keep a kosher diet, so they cannot eat dairy products (such as yogurt or butter) and meat in the same dish.
Kosher doesn’t have to mean dairy-free, but it’s often helpful to have recipes where the dairy is already removed. Many traditional Persian recipes have dairy in them, such as rice made with butter or yogurt, and kosher households often substitute oil for butter.
🍚Persian rice dishes
Persian rice recipes are beautiful, complex, layered dishes that are a staple at every meal. I always recommend starting by making Persian rice with saffron, as it's a fundamental dish served in every Persian home.
1.4-Ingredient Steamed Persian Rice (with or without Saffron)
3.Adas Polo - Persian Lentil Rice
4.Baghali Polo - Persian Dill Rice
5.Shirin Polo aka Morasa or Javaher Polo
6.Albaloo Polo bah Morg - Sour Cherry Rice with Chicken
7.Sabzi Polo - Persian Herb Rice
These are the most popular dishes ordered in Persian restaurants and for good reason. Persian kabob are tender, juicy, and arguably the most flavorful meat you will ever try.
8.Joojeh Kabob (Persian Chicken Kabob)
9.Koobideh - Persian Ground Beef Kabob
10.Persian Kabob Barg
Persian desserts are sweet, refreshing, and full of delicate flavors like rose and saffron. You'll often see cookies, sweets, and fruit served as dessert in Persian homes, with plenty of tea to go along with them!
11.Bastani - Saffron and Rose Ice Cream
13.Faloodeh - Persian Rose & Lime Granita
Traditional Persian breakfasts are usually enjoyed freestyle – meaning you can choose what you want to eat and combine several Persian recipes and dishes to create the perfect combo. All the dishes served at breakfast are filling, setting you up with energy for your day.
16.Persian Tea Eggs
18.Noon Barbari Recipe
19.Cardamom Quince Jam
20.Sour Cherry Syrup
🍲Persian stews & soups
Hearty stews and soups are dishes at the heart of Persian cooking. Many meals I grew up eating were classic Persian stew recipes, simmering in a huge pot on the stove and making the house smell amazing. These recipes are guaranteed to deliver spectacular flavor.
22.Ghormeh Sabzi - Persian Herb & Beef Stew with Dried Limes
28.Koufteh - Persian Meat & Rice Dumpling Soup
☕️Persian tea & drinks
Classic Persian tea is always flowing in Persian households and served to guests with little cookies and treats like zulbia. Aside from tea, there are many delicious Persian drinks to quench your thirst.
31.Gol Gav Zaban
32.Sekanjabin – 9 recipes, served 12 ways
Become a Pro in Persian Cooking!
I put together these easy-to-navigate guides to help anyone of any skill level learn the basics for Persian recipes and general cuisine.
Persian Recipes: Doogh
- 2 cups milk see notes
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup yogurt or ½ cup kefir
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 cups carbonated water
- Dried mint optional
- 1 sprig mint optional
- Add 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of water to a saucepan.
- Heat until it hits 185F, but don’t let it boil.
- Remove from heat and cool to 110F. Then add another cup of milk, yogurt or kefir, salt and sugar.
- Pour it into a jar** (a quart or 1L size works great, no bigger than ½-gallon or 2L) and cover it.
- Keep it in a dark, warm place for 2-3 days until tangy.
- Run it through a non-metal sieve or squeeze it through a nut milk bag.
- Transfer it to a quart-sized jar and refrigerate for up to 1 week, venting it every day. It is ready to use immediately.
- Fill a glass with ice, and serve it 1:1 doogh to carbonated or still water.
- If you like, add mint to taste just before serving.
Substitution with Kefir
- Mix kefir 1:1 with carbonated or still water. Add optional mint to taste just before serving