You probably won’t see any other cuisine as colorful and as vibrant as Persian cuisine. Granted that all cuisines around the world are a gem of their own, the highlight of Persian cuisine is its remarkable way of using an array of spices to bring out wonderful flavors in its dishes. There is a certain warmth to Persian cuisine that comes from its deeply ingrained culture and heritage.
History of Persian Cuisine
Persia is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and now is known as modern-day Iran. The reason for Persia’s dynamic and colorful cuisine and ingredients is probably due to the scope of its reach during the height of its empire. Around 2,500 years ago, the Persian Empire was so vast that it even covered the lands of Egypt, Turkey, and Greece. Due to its ever-expanding borders, Persian cuisine accumulated cooking styles and influences from other cultures such as Greek, Asian, Armenian, and Russian. This is why Persian cuisine ingredients encompass flavor notes ranging from sweet and floral to tangy and warm.
Spices: Core of Persian Cuisine
Persian food is beloved for its exotic gluten-free and vegan diets and its vibrant meat dishes. Persian cuisine sports a certain warmth to its dishes, and this is mostly because of its expert use of a wide selection of their spices. While other cultures mainly use spices to bring heat to their food, Persian cuisine focuses more on providing warmth and bringing out distinct flavors to a meal. If you’re looking to whip up some Persian-inspired feast any time soon, it’s important to invest in a good spice collection and a quality spice blender or mortar and pestle. It is also recommended that you buy spices and grind them at home to get the most fragrance and impact.
Persian cooking features more spices in its cuisine than you can imagine and getting to try all of them might take quite some time. However, here are some of the most popular spices that you can experiment with for your upcoming Persian-styled feast.
One of the cornerstones of Persian cuisine, saffron is popularly used for its fragrant taste and crimson gold pigment that gives Persian food so much warmth and vibrancy. It may be quite expensive but a tiny pinch of saffron goes a long way for your dishes.
This is a pungent spice featuring both flavours of citrus and saltiness and is used typically where lemon juice would come in such as in salads, soups, and meat. It is also used as a meat tenderizer.
Turmeric gives a certain earthiness and mustardy taste to Persian meals, and its bright yellow pigment brings a warm color to rice and soup dishes.
Typically used in puddings and meat dishes in Persian cuisine, the key is to use cinnamon to compliment the meal you are planning to make. This is one of the most versatile spices in Persian cooking.
Coriander seeds are used for their lemony and subtle nutty taste perfect for meat dishes in Persian cooking.
Aside from these spices, Persian cooking ingredients also involve staples such as dried limes, dried rosebuds and rose petals, and fruits like barberries, pomegranates, apricots, and plums. Incorporating these spices with various fruits, vegetables, and meat selections is the essence of Persian cuisine.