Food and Drinks in Iran

Whether you are a backpacker who is interested in local foods or simply a busy businessman, traveling can be challenging. With extended hours on a plane or hectic hours on the bus and long meetings with colleagues, you barely have time to sleep, let alone think about how you will find healthy foods to eat. Moreover, Names on the restaurant menu, different spices, smells and tastes might be quite frustrating. This article walks you through some steps you can take to eat right while you’re away and answers some questions about foods in Iran and what to eat and drink when you are traveling through the country.

History of food in Iran

Since the beginning of human civilization to present-day Iran, a series of people have invaded the region, exposing the area to new customs, beliefs, ideas, and foods, as well as bringing Iranian customs and foods back to their own home countries. The ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Turks are just a few of the groups that have had an influence on Iranian culture and its cuisine.







Ancient Persians took their own wares to all the corners of the world, in particular pomegranate, saffron and spinach, however the country also played host to much of the bargaining between the East and West. The bargained goods, including rice, lemon and eggplant now feature prominently in the national Iranian dishes.

Iranian cooking has much in common with Middle Eastern cooking, where wheat is a staple, lamb and poultry are well-utilized and yoghurt is common. A distinctly sour flavor is evident in most Iranian dishes, and may be achieved through the addition of lemon, pomegranate or sour orange. The dishes of Iran are often time-consuming slow-cooked affairs.


What do Iranians eat? Due to the range of culinary traditions across the Iranian provinces, food in Iran is extremely diverse. Common to all the Iranian provinces however, is the fact that Iranian food tends to be both healthy and nutritious.

It includes a wide variety of foods ranging from Chelow Kebab (rice served with roasted meat), Khoresht (stew served Iranian rice: Fesenjān, Ghormeh Sabzi, Gheimeh, etc.), Āsh (a thick soup: for example Āsh-e anār), Kuku (vegetable soufflé), Polo (rice alone or with addition of meat and/or vegetables and herbs, including Loobia Polo, Albaloo Polo, Zereshk Polo, Sabzi Polo, Baghali Polo and others), and a diverse variety of salads, pastries, and drinks specific to different parts of Iran. The list of Persian recipes, appetizers and desserts is extensive.







To taste true Iranian food, it is necessary to eat at an Iranian’s house. Since most restaurants in Iran limit the food they sell to different types of kebab and there is therefore, little variety.

Even if you are going to stay with an Iranian family, it is probable that at some point you will eat in a restaurant (eventually in a traditional one) and if this is the case, you are likely to be happy with the standards of cleanliness and hygiene. As with any country however, it is advisable to only eat hot food from street stalls and you should make efforts to observe how the food has been cooked e.g. ensuring sufficient standards of cleanliness).

Food in Iran is hygienically safe and clean, and almost everywhere plastic gloves are used to handle food. On very hot summer days avoid eating minced meat, grilled liver, or any other food that looks as if it may possibly have been sitting around. When choosing a place for eating, see that it looks clean and is reasonably crowded, and also that the vendor looks healthy and clean.

As a general description, food in Iran tends to be colorful, healthy and simple. Taste is added via herbs, light spices and fruit and the resulting dishes are mild as opposed to spicy.

Water and soft drinks

Iran has a wide pipeline system around the country, and the water is fresh, clean and cheap, however, due to the different water filtration system in Iran, it’s recommended that tourists use bottled water for drinking and tap water for washing.

No matter whether it’s a coke, Pepsi, dairies, fruit juice, or Islamic beer, soft drinks sold in Iran are typically served in bottles and rarely in cartons. ‘Doug’ is a very popular salty yoghurt drink which is similar to ‘Ayran’ (drunk in Turkey).