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Top 17 Persian Dishes Everyone Should Try

Learn about traditional Persian cuisine with these meals.

Persian culture is rich and complex. The Persian Empire was one of the farthest spanning empires in history and stretched from India to the Middle East. The food is just as rich as the culture and has influences from all over the world.

Persian Food- Iranian Food

Persian food is an up-and-coming ethnic food that is rapidly gaining attention. It often features lamb, flatbreads, rice, and potatoes. But Persian cuisine also has some of the most divine desserts.

Trying out ethnic food that is unfamiliar to you can be exciting. However, it can also be intimidating to figure out where to start.

Popular Persian Foods

To make your next experience with Persian food more enjoyable, I’ve compiled a list of the most popular Persian foods. Every dish on this list is absolutely delicious, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.


Kabab Koobideh

Persian cuisine has many different types of kababs, but kabab koobideh is by far the most popular.

You make it with ground beef or lamb, and it’s typically served with rice. I love the juicy, flavorful meat and the crispy edges you get from grilling.

The meat is minced and then mixed with the most fantastic spice mix that often includes sumac and red onion.

The meat mixture is then formed around a skewer and grilled. The result is a juicy and tender kabab that earns its spot on this list of the most popular Persian foods.


Ashe Reshteh

Ashe Reshteh is a soup made of herbs, beans, and noodles. This Persian dish is eaten most frequently during holidays and special occasions.

Ashe is the Iranian word for a thick soup, and resheteh is a type of thin noodle. Ashe Resheteh is the perfect soup to eat on a cold night.

I love Ashe Reshteh because it’s filling and comforting. It fills your belly and warms your heart.

Another great thing about Ashe Reshteh is that everyone makes it slightly different. Each time you try Ashe Reshteh, it’s you’ll be having a new flavor experience.


Ghorme Sabzi

Ghormeh Sabzi is a stew made of green vegetables, herbs, and meat. Some consider it the national dish of Iran, and for a good reason.

This stew is one of the most popular Persian foods because it’s packed with flavor.

You make this stew with sauteed herbs, including parsley, leeks, green onions, and coriander. Additionally, you can add greens like kale and turnip greens.

This herb mixture adds an explosion of flavor to the beans and lamb or beef. The ingredients are cooked in a pot with oil and water until they’re soft.

I love Ghorme Sabzi because it’s full of flavor and has a hearty taste. The greens and herbs give it a fresh flavor, while the meat makes it satisfying.


Kuku Sabzi

Kuku sabzi is a Persian frittata made with greens, herbs, and eggs. You usually serve it as a side dish, but I have it as a main course.

The fresh herbs give the Kuku a bright flavor, and it has a creamy texture perfect for pairing on flatbread with feta cheese.

It’s unlike any other frittata. The robust flavors in its dish seem to explode in your mouth with every bite.

This dish is one of the most popular Persian foods because of its taste and versatility. I also like making Kuku sabzi into a sandwich.


Tahchin

I love Tahchin. It’s one of the most amazing Persian foods I know, and I promise you won’t be disappointed if you try this dish.

Tahchin is a Persian dish traditionally made with:

  • Chicken or lamb
  • Rice
  • Yogurt

You cook the meat in a sauce made with saffron, onion, and other spices, then layer with rice and yogurt.

Next, you bake the mixture until crispy. You can also make Tahchin with fish or vegetables.

After preparing the meat, you bake it on a bed of rice in a large pot. As the rice cooks, it caramelizes on the pot’s bottom.

The result is flavor-infused rice that has a fantastic texture. What not to love about this delectable traditional dish?


Bastani Sonnati

Most of my favorite Persian foods are savory, but Persian sweets are flavor sensations.

Bastani Sonnati is one of the most popular Persian foods, and I wish more people would try it.

Bastani Sonnati is a Persian ice cream flavored with saffron, rose water, and pistachios. It’s one of the most famous desserts in Iran.

I love Bastani Sonnati because it’s so flavorful and creamy. The saffron gives it a unique taste that I can’t find in any American ice cream.

I also like that Bastani Sonnati has a bit more texture than different types of frozen desserts.


Jujeh Kabab

Jujeh kabab is one of the most popular Persian dishes. Traditionally, you make this dish with chicken and serve it with rice.

What sets this dish apart is the marinade you use for the chicken. The marinade is a mixture of:

  • Lemon juice
  • Onion
  • Spices

Persian food is known for its liberal use of saffron, and Jujeh Kabas take advantage of this fantastic spice. As the chicken marinates, it absorbs the amazing lemon and saffron flavors. 

This dish is a must-try for anyone visiting Iran. It’s one of the best kababs I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.

Although it’s common to serve this with rice, you can serve it with any other starch or grain.


Pashmak

Pashmak is one of the most unique desserts I’ve ever tried. Despite being a little different than what I’m used to, I quickly fell in love with it and understood why it’s considered one of the most popular Persian foods.

Pashmak is a Persian candy floss made from sugar, flour, and sometimes it’s topped with pistachio nuts. It’s similar to cotton candy. You traditionally serve it as a dessert or snack. 

Although I also love it as a garnish on other desserts, especially Bastani Sonnati. I love this dessert because it’s so light and fluffy.


Qottab

A qottab is a type of Persian pastry made with thin layers of dough filled with various fillings.

The most common fillings are savory and include:

  • Minced meat
  • Cheese
  • Spinach

You typically fry qottabs, but you can also bake them.

Traditionally, you serve them for Persian New Year, and every family takes great pride in their secret qottab recipe. The smell of baking quottabs fills the air on this special occasion.

I love qottabs because they’re so versatile. They can be sweet and savory and everything in between.

But, my favorite qottabs are filled with feta cheese and spinach, almost like a spanakopita from Greek cuisine.


Abgoosht or Dizi

Abgoosht is a traditional hearty Persian stew made with:

  • Lamb
  • Chickpeas
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes

It’s also known as Dizi. Dizi refers to the traditional stoneware pots that you serve this dish in. 

I love the layered combination of flavors in Abgoosht. The mix of lamb, chickpeas, beans, onion, potatoes, tomatoes, turmeric, and dried lime is a match made in heaven.

Tumeric gives this dish its beautiful yellow hue.

Typically, you serve Dizi with taftoon bread, a type of flatbread, for dipping. Dizi is a perfect dish to share with friends and family.


Baghali Polo ba Mahiche

Baghali polo is a Persian dish with rice, dill, and fava beans. It’s often served as a side dish but can also be a main course.

I love baghali polo because it’s so fragrant and flavorful. The dill shines through in this dish, and the fava beans add a lovely creamy texture.

This dish is often served during special occasions, like at weddings or on birthdays. It’s an extravagant meal that is spiced with:

  • Turmeric
  • Saffron 
  • Cinnamon
  • Pepper

The dill flavor provides a light and subtle background that perfectly accompanies the beans and rice. Not only does this dish taste amazing, but it looks impressive!


Salad Shirazi

Salad Shirazi is the Persian version of a Greek Salad. It’s a no lettuce salad with a great mix of flavors and textures.

There’s something so refreshing about a good Salad Shirazi. It’s the perfect mix of diced cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and parsley, all tossed in a light vinaigrette dressing.

I love how the vinegar’s acidity brightens the vegetables’ flavors. 

A Salad Shirazi is the perfect side dish to any of the main courses on this list. But, it also pairs well with pita bread for a light, refreshing meal.


Tahdig

Tahdig is a Persian rice dish that’s crispy, golden, and absolutely delicious. You make Tahdig with basmati rice, but you can use other types of rice.

The secret to making Tahdig is to cook the rice in a lot of oil or butter to get it crispy. Serve it with stews, kabobs, lamb, or simply on its own.

I love Tahdig because it has an amazing texture and it’s full of flavor. The rice soaks up all of the oil and butter, making it rich and decadent.

Tahdig is also a great way to use up leftover rice. Reheat the rice in a pan with oil or butter, and you’ve got Tahdig in no time!

If you’re looking for a delicious, crispy rice dish, Tahdig is one of the best. Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!


Biryani

Biryani has various iterations around the world. You can make biryani with rice and various meats, but usually, it’s made with chicken or lamb.

It is cooked with spices and often includes saffron, which gives it a beautiful yellow color. You serve biryani with a side of yogurt or raita. Raita is a cucumber and yogurt salad.

I love biryani because it’s so flavorful and filling. The rice is always the right texture, and the meat is usually very tender.

I also love how each bite is slightly different, depending on the spices used.


Zulbia

Zulbia is a deep-fried Persian dessert. You make it out of a mixture of corn starch, flour, and baking powder, and then fry the dough and coat it with sugar syrup.

Zulbia is often served with ice cream, fruits, or as part of a dessert platter.

There are multiple versions of this dish across the world. If you take a bite, you will understand why it is one of the most popular Persian foods.

It’s addicting on its own and is an excellent garnish for other desserts, especially Bastani Sonnati.

Just be prepared to get your fingers full of the sticky syrup!


Kabab Barg

This is my favorite Persian dish: hands down, no competition. Nothing can compete with a high-quality Kabab Barg.

The flavor is fantastic, and I love how tender the meat becomes.

What sets this kabab apart from other kababs is the cut of meat. Most kababs use lower quality meat.

A Kabab Barg uses the filet mignon, the most tender cut of beef.

Add in the fantastic Persian spices, and you have an unbeatable Kabab. You traditionally serve it with rice, but it can be eaten on its own or with a side of vegetables.

The smell alone will convince you why it is one of the most popular Persian Foods.


Khoresh Fesenjaan

This is a dish that you typically serve on special occasions. 

You make this rich and sweet stew with:

  • Pomegranate syrup
  • Ground walnuts
  • Chicken

I love Khoresh Fesenjaan because of its unique flavor. The pomegranate syrup gives the stew a tartness balanced by the walnuts’ sweetness.

The chicken is usually cooked until it’s tender, making it a perfect hearty meal.

Koresh Fesenjaan is one of the most popular Persian foods because of its unique combination of flavors.

The mix of pomegranate and walnuts creates a sweet, savory, and rich flavor that must be tried to be believed.


Popular Persian Foods

  1. Kabab Koobideh
  2. Ashe Reshteh
  3. Ghorme Sabzi
  4. Kuku Sabzi
  5. Tahchin
  6. Bastani Sonnati
  7. Jujeh Kabab
  8. Pashmak
  9. Qottab
  10. Abgoosht or Dizi
  11. Baghali Polo ba Mahiche
  12. Salad Shirazi
  13. Tahdig
  14. Biryani
  15. Zulbia
  16. Kabab Barg
  17. Khoresh Fesenjaan

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the most popular Persian foods. These are just a few of the many unique dishes that come from this cuisine. If you haven’t tried Persian food before, I urge you to do so.

Persian foods often feature tender cuts of meat, flavored rice, and robust spices like turmeric and saffron. The food is known for being versatile, filling, and hearty.

Each dish on this list is unique and offers a flavor profile you’ve likely never experienced before. You won’t be disappointed. And, who knows, maybe one of these dishes will become your new favorite!

Did we leave out your favorite Persian dish? Leave us a comment below!

Want to learn about food from other cultures? Check out popular Ukrainian cuisine or Lebanese food to learn more about this region!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.