Side dishes are an important part of Iranian cuisine. Different types of salads, marinated vegetables, yogurt mixes, and other delicious Iranian side dishes give a Persian meal better taste. Combining the unique taste of Iranian main dishes with the salty, sour, or hot taste of their special side dishes is an interesting culinary experience. On the other hand, It’s not common to eat appetizers in Iran as the main dishes are often very large. However, appetizers are served in some restaurants. In addition to the classic soups and salads, there are some traditional Iranian appetizers such as Kuku and Dolma many of which can also be a main dish. Similar to their main dishes, Iranian side dishes and appetizers are very varied. Here’s a list of top 10 Iranian appetizers and side dishes you have to try:
Shirazi Salad is one of the most popular Iranian Salads and is served with most Iranian dishes. Shirazi Salad is local to Shiraz but it’s popular all over the country. This healthy salad contains chopped onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs and is flavored with salt, pepper, lemon juice, verjuice, and olive oil. Shirazi salad is served with most Iranian main dishes including mixed rice dishes such as Loobia Polo and stews such as Gheymeh.
Torshi is usually made by marinating chopped carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, and some herbs in a mixture of salt, pepper, and vinegar and leaving them for a few weeks. There are different types of Torshi that vary in the size of chopped vegetables and the amount of sourness or hotness. For instance, those types of Torshi that are local to the southern part of Iran are more hot while the ones originally made in the northern part such as Naz Khatun( a Torshi made with eggplants) are more sour.
Shoor is another popular Iranian side dish. Similar to Torshi, Shoori is also a side dish made by marinating vegetables; however, Shoori is prepared by marinating vegetables in saltwater and often takes longer to prepare. Shoori can be served with many Iranian dishes.
4-Zeytun Parvardeh (Persian Marinated Olives)
Zeytun Parvardeh (Persian marinated olives) is a popular Iranian side dish originally from the north of Iran especially cities such as Rasht and Rudbar. It is prepared by marinating olives in walnuts, pomegranate sauce, dried pomegranate, lemon juice, thymes powder, peppermint powder, and olive oil.
Yogurt is one of the most popular dairy products among Iranians. It’s a great source of calcium after milk and can provide the body with the necessary amount of calcium. Yogurt can be served with most dishes; however, it’s best to avoid having it with fish to prevent stomach aches. Iranians add different ingredients to yogurt such as spinach, cucumber, eggplants, etc. to get a better taste and a richer side dish. Mast o Khiar is one of the most famous Iranian yogurts and consists of yogurt, grated cucumber, salt, and aromatic herbs. These types of mixed yogurt are healthy and delicious Iranian side dishes and are very popular among Iranians.
Kashk is a special dairy product made in Iran. It is made by boiling fat-free yogurt. Kashk has a salty and sometimes sour taste and is eaten with Ash (Iranian soup).
Kashk e Bademjan is a traditional Iranian food containing eggplants, Kashk, and onions, making it a great vegetarian option.
Mirza Ghasemi is an Iranian vegetarian dish originally from the north of the country. This delicious dish consists of chopped garlic, fried eggplants, and tomatoes and is served with bread or rice. The combination of eggplants and garlic creates a unique taste that most travelers love. Mirza Ghasemi can be either a main dish or appetizer.
8-Dolmeh Barg-e Mo, Dolme (Dolma)
Dolma is a type of wrap or stuffed vegetable originally from East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan provinces in Iran. This popular Iranian dish is prepared by stuffing vegetables with precooked minced meat, rice, tomato paste, split peas, and other ingredients and coiling them. There are several types of Dolma found in Iran such as Dolme Kalam (cabbage Dolma), bell pepper Dolma, tomato Dolma, potato Dolma, eggplant dolma and grape leaves (Barg-e mo) Dolma. Grape leaves Dolma is the most popular type of Persian Dolma and is mostly prepared with fresh grape leaves during spring and frozen for later.
Kuku is an Iranian food made with whipped eggs and smashed potatoes, herbs or eggplants, and other ingredients. Kuku is most similar to the Italian frittata and is usually eaten with bread.
Kuku Sabzi is one of the most popular types of Kuku in Iran. It can be both considered a side dish or a main dish when eaten with bread. Kuku Sabzi is popular among students as it takes a short time to prepare. It contains different kinds of herbs that vary in every region, eggs, walnuts, and barberries and often has 180 to 220 calories depending on its ingredients. Kuku Sabzi is also a delicious vegetarian option found in Iran.
Similar to rice, bread also comprises a major part of Iranian cuisine. Iranians sometimes prefer to eat bread instead of rice with their main dish. Bread is also the main element of an Iranian breakfast and is often eaten with butter, jam, honey, cream, or cheese. Although common types of bread such as baguette and toast are plenty in Iran, Iranians prefer their delicious traditional types of flatbread. Traditional Iranian types of bread are normally made of wheat flour and are baked in large dome-shaped ovens. The pleasant smell of Persian bread being baked attracts everyone to the bakery. The most popular types of Iranian flatbread are Barbari, Sangak, Taftoon, and Lavash. Iranian traditional bread is one of the things every traveler must try in Iran.