Not only most of the population were pastoralists and meat and dairy were always present in their food, but also eating meat used to indicate a higher social status, as it showed the ability to afford meat. (Same applies to consuming white rice and white bread, which used to be scarce and some elderly still believe that refined grains are healthier than the whole grain ones).
RESTAURANT OR NO?
Ananda Vegetarian Restaurant in Tehran
Normally if you just walk into a regular restaurant, you won’t have much luck in finding a vegetarian dish there.
Now a days there are vegetarian and vegan restaurants opened in Tehran and you can find them with a simple search on google maps. You can also get lucky in some high-end restaurants in major cities or to find street food like Falafel sandwich (slightly different from Lebanese Falafel) or Sambuseh (similar to Aloo Samosa of India).
But except when you are traveling in province of Gilan and especially city of Rasht (which is Food Heaven of Iran!!) your only chance of tasting a delicious vegetarian dish is at Iranian homes.
Falafel or felafel is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, that most likely originated in Egypt. – Photo: vidasblog.com
POPULAR VEGETARIAN DISHES
Yatimcheh is traditionally made on the stovetop with eggplants, zucchini, onions, garlic. Photo: foodhini.com
- Kashk-e Bademjan (eggplant with whey sauce dip)
Boorani Bademjan (eggplant with yogurt sauce dip)
- Yatimcheh (eggplant with tomato sauce)
- Naz Khatoon (eggplant and herbs dip with slightly sour taste)
Kookoo sabzi is an Iranian egg-based dish similar to an Italian frittata. Photo: taste.com.au
- Kookoo is a category of food similar to Spanish Tortilla or Omelette, that is cooked with different vegetables.
- Kookoo Sibzamini (with potato)
- Kookoo Sabzi (with mixed herbs, walnut and barberry)
- Kookoo Kadoo sabz (with zucchini)
- kookoo loobia (with green beans)
- Omelette in Iran is only one kind: a tomato omelette which has more tomatoes than eggs
- Khagineh (with yogurt, could be made sweet or savory)
- Nargesi (with spinach and onions)
RICE BASED (POLO AND DAMPOKHT)
Baghali polo – Photo: fae-magazine.com
In general, there are three kinds of cooking rice. Chelo is name for white rice that is served with stew or kebabs, Polo is the rice mixed with other ingredients, and dampokht (or dami), same as polo, but with a different method of cooking. Most of Polos contain meat and most of Dampokhts are meatless. Dampokhts and polos are good options for vegans.
- Dampokhte baghala and Baghali polo (rice with broad beans and dill)
- Dampokhte Gojeh (rice with tomato and sometimes potato)
- Estanboli (dampokhte gojeh with green beans or in some regions with potatoes)
- Dampokhte Mash (rice with mung beans)
- Adas polo (rice with lentils and raisins)
- Havij Polo (rice with carrots and walnut)
- Loobia polo (in different parts of the country loobia polo can refer to dampokht with pinto beans or estanboli with green beans)
Adasi – Photo: dustaan.com
- Do Piazeh Aloo (potatos and onions and tomato paste)
- Eshkeneh (potato and egg soup-like dish with herbs)
- Kale Joosh (whey sauce, walnut and herbs)
- Khorak Loobia (Pinto beans and tomato sauce thick soup)
- Adasi (lentils)
- Daal adas (Daal in tomato sauce along with onions and potato)
Ash Balghour – Photo: Ghazaland
- Ash is a category of old dishes in Iran which are more like thick soups. There are many varieties of Ash in Iran and each region has a special Ash of their own.
- Ash Reshteh (legumes, herbs, noodles, served with whey sauce)
- Ash Gandom (legumes and wheat with herbs)
- Ash Jo (legumes and barley)
- Ash Balghour
- Ash Doogh (Yogurt based Ash)
- Ash Anar (rice, lentils and Pomegranate sauce)
Abdough Khiar translates as “water, yogurt drink, cucumber,”
Cold dishes are mainly for hot summer days and usually have yogurt because of its cool nature
- Ab Doogh Khiar (Yogurt, cucumber, walnut and dried mint)
- Boorani Esfenaj (Spinach and yogurt)
- Mast o Khiar (Yogurt and cucumber)
AND FINALLY VEGETARIAN GILANI DISHES THAT YOU HAVE TO TRY!
- Mirza Ghasemi (eggplant with tomato, garlic and eggs) you probably find it in other parts of the country as well.
- Baghala Ghatogh (Rashti fava beans, eggs and dill)
- Torshi Tareh (Herbs stew with eggs and sour taste)
- Paneer boroshteh (cheese, eggs and dill)
- Kaal Kabab (Eggplant and pomegranate jouice)
- Sir Vavij or Sir Ghelieh (green garlic and eggs)
- Shish Andaz (Eggplant, walnut and pomegranate paste)
- Bagnala Khoshkabij (Broad beans with eggs)
- Kooyee khoresh (butternut squash with lentils and walnuts)