Cuisine > Basic Cooking > THE BASICS OF THE IRANIAN KITCHEN BY SHABNAM REZAEI
And How Some Persian Vocabulary
Persian cuisine is intertwined with Persian culture and deserves to be explored. Persian cuisine is as old as Persian history and has served the important role of bringing friends and rivals closer over the years. In the old days, Iranian families gathered around a sofreh which was a table cloth or spread on the floor over a Persian carpet or kilim (geleem).
The sofreh was and still is the corner stone of Persian cuisine and a place of gathering, laughter, relaxation, and enjoyment. Like the sofreh, Persian cuisine is very distinct and particular to Iranians. It is a cuisine filled with strong tastes and wonderful aromas. Persians have very tolerant palates as the cuisine ranges in taste from sweet, to very sour, or spicy. Persian recipes vary also in ingredients and ways of preparation. Many Iranian dishes consist of rice and stews with different sorts of meats and vegetables. Iranians spend a lot of time in the kitchen but the cuisine offers very simple to very elaborate dishes.
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Persian Kitchen Essentials
It is a good idea to have these important ingredients on hand as you will see them over and over again in many Iranian dishes:
Ingredient - Persian Name - Description
Salt and Pepper - Namak-o Felfel - Used in almost any Iranian dish.
Yoghurt - Mast - Used as a side dish and served regularly at meals.
Goats - Cheese Panir - Used as a side dish and served regularly at meals.
Bread - Sangak, Barbari, Lavash - Serve with meals as desired.
Liquid Whey – Kashk - In every kitchen and used in many dishes.
Black Whey – Gharaghorut - Also used in many dishes.
Pomegranate Juice/Paste - Ab Anar/Robb-e Anar - Used in cooking, and whole as garnish and juce.
Unripe Grape Juice - Ab Ghureh - Very tart tasting juice used in cooking.
Tomato Paste - Robb-e Gojeh Farangi - Used in many dishes as Italian cuisine.
In addition to these items, when having guests over, Iranians provide huge, fragrant fruit plates for before and after the meal. These are served on smaller plates with fruit cutlery such as knife and fork. The towering fruit plates consist of oranges, apples, small Iranian cucumbers known as khee-yar (khiyar), pomegranates, pears, bananas, cherries (gilas), sour cherris (albalu), grapes, peachers, tangarines and anything other fruit that is in season. Bowls of cut honeydew melon, watermelon, or Iranian melon (kharbozeh), ajil, tokhmeh and other snacks may also be served. At the end of a dinner party (mehmooni), some other type of baked or prepared dessert may also be served, such as eclairs, cake, cream puffs, creme caramel, or other sweets with tea.