Food, Persian culture

4 common myths of Persian cuisine

What I’ve noticed about growing up in Australia is that while most people can tell you what a donor kebab is, many wouldn’t know what’s in a Persian chelow kebab (or kabab) or kabab koobideh. And just about everyone’s tasted or made a Greek salad, but how many have tried a Salad Shirazi?

Well-kept secret? Or just not marketed well to the masses? Either way, Persian food is relatively unknown here. So, when I’m asked about Persian food from time-to-time, I’m also met with a few confused looks.

MYTH 1: Persian cuisine is spicy / chilli / hot

No, Persian food won’t leave you furiously fanning your taste buds, sweating, and wiping away tears. Although most recipes call for a blend of mild spices (like saffron), herbs and seasonings, the resulting meals are definitely not, colloquially speaking, spicy.

MYTH 2: Persian recipes are mostly curries

i just dont understand

Well, yes and no. The word curry tends to be thrown around quite a bit. It usually refers to stew-like meals featuring a blend of spices, like turmeric, cumin and chilli peppers. There are many stews (we call them ‘khoresht’) in Persian cuisine, but the flavours come from a blend of herbs, pickled vegetables and fruits, rather than ground spices alone.

MYTH 3: Persian cuisine is synonymous with Middle Eastern / Mediterranean cuisine

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Image source: UPMC My Health Matters blog

Middle Eastern or Mediterranean are broader terms that include neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Greece. So in the same way describing a country’s cuisine as American, Asian or African is simplistic, so too is describing a cuisine as Middle Eastern or Mediterranean. While there are similarities between meals in Middle Eastern countries, they are each unique in their distinct flavours, aromas and cooking styles.

MYTH 4: Kebabs are a greasy, fatty take-away food reserved only for the boozy night out or when you find yourself in a food court, hungry and alone

Image: Kabab Koobideh. Source: Wikipedia

Image: Kabab Koobideh. Source: Wikipedia

It’s time you discover the kebab koobideh, joojeh, jigar and kebab e barg.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Nina Davis May 18, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Barg and joojeh are my *favorite* Kababs (*if* they’re made well, so no bone, cartilage or gristle). I wish Iranian food was spicy in the sense of Indian food or somewhere/thing else, but then I guess it wouldn’t be unique as it already is.

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