Cooking & food in Iran

Iran痴 history and culture is reflected in its food, which has been shaped over the centuries by Persian, Russian and Central Asian influences.
You could find yourself touring sweet shops in the desert town of Yazd, cooking hearty fesenjan stew in a rural home or touring a cheese factory in elegant Shiraz to sample tangy, herby Persian feta.
By joining others on a small group tour, you値l be led to the very finest producers, restaurants and markets well beyond the fledgling tourist trail, with the added bonus of discovering traditional and contemporary Iranian delicacies alongside like minded foodie travellers and knowledgeable local guides.

Small group exploration

Food helps you get to the heart and soul of a country and Iran is no different. On our cooking and food holidays you値l travel with a small group of travellers and expert guides, visiting restaurants and tea houses, sampling the wares at markets and food producers, taking hands on cooking lessons with a local family or chef and eating traditional meals in local homes, all giving you valuable insight into the local way of life.

A typical 10-day long will take you to the vibrant cities of Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan and Yazd, all the while learning more about the history behind Iran痴 delicious and diverse cuisine. In between meals, you値l discover the country痴 proud culture and fascinating heritage, with plenty of time to thrown in to explore museums, mosques and ancient sites.

Eating local

You値l get to eat in a variety of different locations, including restaurants, markets and the generations-old sweet stalls of Yazd, but the emphasis will be on eating in local homes. Sometimes you値l take part in a cooking lesson before sitting down to sample your efforts; other times you値l be invited into a home as a guest, perhaps sharing a meal around a tablecloth on the carpeted floor, the way many Iranians still dine. As a guest you値l be honoured as a 組ift of God and the aromatic food and warm hospitality will make for an experience you値l remember for a long time to come.

Meeting the artisans

As well as cooking and eating in homes and restaurants, you値l also learn about Iranian food culture through talented artisans, including the purveyors of rose-scented ice creams, found country-wide, and the cheese makers of Shiraz, who lovingly create Iranian favourites such as panir cheese made with mint and squeezed lime, a popular breakfast staple. A real highlight is the town of Yazd, home to the finest sweet stalls and bakeries in Iran. Confectioners have been working their sugar-laced magic here for centuries, selling treats unique to this part of the world. Must-tries include melt-in-your mouth, nutty haji badam, and deep fried, almond stuffed qottab.

Learning to cook

A food tour wouldn稚 be complete without picking up some new skills along the way and our food holidays in Iran all have cooking lessons at their heart. You could have a workshop at a local home, visiting the market beforehand to collect fresh ingredients for your meal; or travel along with an expert cookery teacher and writer, learning food preparation techniques and cookery demonstrations along the way.


In many modern house settings food is eaten at the table but plenty of Iranians still eat on the floor in a more traditional style, with food spread out on a tablecloth over a Persian rug instead of a table. You値l be provided with a fork and a spoon for your meal, but rarely a knife.

Iranians like to spoil their guests so there is often an abundance of food. Expect to be offered extra helpings; initial refusals will be dismissed as polite gestures and not taken seriously. When you致e had enough, just leave a little food on your plate to show that you致e finished eating.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Iran or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Classic Iranian dishes

Almost every meal in Iran is accompanied by nun (bread); and chelo (boiled or steamed rice) is also served in hearty helpings , often accompanied by a knob of butter, which you should stir in. If it痴 cooked with additional ingredients such as berries, nuts or spices (saffron is popular) then it痴 known as polo. Iranians go crazy for tahdig - the layer of rice from the bottom of the pan that becomes crispy and crunchy as it bakes.
Not your typical British kebab shop fare, Iranian kababs are made from tender, marinated chicken or lamb, cooked on skewers over hot charcoal. They usually come with onion and grilled tomatoes and are served with rice and flatbread straight from a traditional clay oven. A bowl of yoghurt, flavoured with herbs or shallots, is a popular accompaniment.
A traditional Persian dish of layered meat and rice. Rice infused with saffron is layered with chicken or lamb, onions, yoghurt and eggs and cooked until it has a crisp outer crust and soft, tender middle. It痴 often made for special occasions.
Khoresh Gheimeh
Is a stew made with meat (most often lamb), tomatoes, split peas, spices and dried limes, and garnished with fried potatoes.
A robust meat stew cooked slowly with walnuts and pomegranate molasses to create a thick, sweet-sour sauce. A medieval recipe, it was initially made with duck, but now chicken is the meat of choice.

Sometimes touted as the world痴 oldest ice cream, faloodeh is thousands of years old but is still sold by street vendors across the country. It consists of thin, vermicelli-sized noodles in a semi-frozen rose scented syrup. Faloodeh is often served with pistachios and/or fresh lime juice.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: yeowatzup]  [Top box: Ninara] [Sweet stall: reibai] [Classic dishes: Ninara]