Vegan and Vegetarian Food Served in Iran
Most Iranian cuisines contain meat for the sake of traditional culture and customs. Not only do Iranian people like the taste of meat, but also having the ability to buy it indicates their social economic afford. Despite these facts, you can see signs of veggie foods in the Iranian lifestyle from the long past. Persian prophets like Zoroaster, Mazdak, and other celebrities were vegetarian or vegan and have prompted this lifestyle in their spiritual teaching or epic poems. Iran is rich in producing seasonal fresh vegetables and fruits. They served sliced vegetables as part of their meals and fruits as their snacks. Fruits also served as an integral part of Iranian ceremonies and parties.
The difference between vegan and vegetarian:
Vegans are people who only use plant-based foods. In addition to avoiding consuming meat, chicken, fish, etc., these people do not use dairy products like butter, cheese, milk, eggs, etc. While vegetarians do not consume animal meat products, they use dairy products. Therefore, the only difference between vegans and vegetarians is in the consumption of dairy products. There are delicious veggie foods, snacks, bread, sweets, and salads served in Iran. Here we introduce you to the most delicious ones to eat and enjoy during your trip.
Polow / Chelow / Kateh
Rice is a Persian vegetarian food that cooks in 3 different ways in Iran.
Chelow: Chelow has eaten with saffron and barberry, and no other ingredients add to it. It serves with kebabs, chicken, and stew.
Polow: When other ingredients are added to the rice to make it tasty, aromatic, and flavored, it is called Polow. These ingredients like lentils, raisins, carrots, and peas, are added when the rice boils.
Kateh or Dampokht ( Dami ) : There is a main difference between Kateh, Chelow, and Polow. Unlike Polow and Chelow, Kateh has not been rinsed, so it has more nutritional value than Chelow and Polow.
The types of Polow and Kateh depend on the ingredients and spices used in cooking them. Let brings some examples:
Adas Polow (Rice with lentils and raisins)
Baghali Polow (Rice with broad beans and dill)
Havij Polow (Rice with carrots and walnut)
Loobia Polow (Beans, herbs, rice)
Tahchin (Rice cake, that’s a mixture of rice with egg and saffron and usually a layer of shredded chicken in the middle, but you can make it without chicken, and it’s still delicious.
Dampokhte Gojeh (Rice with tomato and sometimes potato)
Estanboli Polow (Dampokhte Gojeh with green beans or some regions with potatoes)
Dampokhte Mash (Rice with mung beans)
Tahdig (a Persian cuisine that has made of slices of potato, bread, or rice in a way that forms a crispy golden layer at the bottom of the pot)
Khoresh or the Persian stew is the most frequently cooked dish in Persian cuisine and has always been served with Chelow. Though it has made with meat, its vegetarian and vegan types are also tasty and rich.
All kinds of khoreshts can be cooked with meat, chicken, or in a vegan style.
Vegan Gheimeh (Split peas, potato, dry lemon, tomato paste)
Vegan Fesenjan (Pomegranate paste, walnuts, sugar, and quince)
Ghormeh sabzi (Kidney beans, some typical finely chopped herbs, dried lemon)
Khorak in Persian cooking includes a mixture of ingredients such as pinto beans, mushrooms, lentils, eggplant, and green beans, which are among the most popular ones. These foods are very healthy and can be consumed without restrictions.
Khorak is similar to Khoresh, but it’s eaten with bread instead of Polow. Some famous vegan Khoraks are:
Khorak Loobia (Pinto beans, chopped onion, sliced potato, tomato paste)
Khorak Adas or Lentil Stew (Lentil, chopped onion, sliced potato)
Yatimcheh (Eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, and chopped onion)
Kaleh Joosh (Mint, walnut, and yogurt)
Borani Esfenaj (Spinach dip)
Dolma or Dolmeh (Grape leaves stuffed with rice, flavored herbs, split peas, raisin, and walnut)
Other vegetables such as squash, peppers, aubergine, and tomatoes filled with rice, spices, and other vegetables or meat and served as Dolmeh.
Ash is a traditional Iranian dish. It is like a deep soup with a different taste and ingredients. There are many kinds of Ash in different parts of Iran, the most favorite one is Ash Reshteh.
Ash Reshteh (Legumes, herbs, noodles, served with whey sauce)
Ash Gandom (Legumes and wheat with herbs)
Ash Jo (Legumes and barley)
Ash Balghour (Wheat semolina, herbs, legumes, whey sauce)
Ash Doogh (Yogurt, legumes, herbs, rice)
Ash Anar (Rice, lentils, and Pomegranate sauce)
Ash Kardeh (Rice, a vegetable named Kardeh )
Persian purees are so delicious and globally famous.
Mirza Ghassemi (Smoked eggplant, egg, garlic, tomato, tomato paste)
Kashk Bademjan (Mashed eggplant, whey, garlic, onion, chopped walnut)
The below are meat dishes, but they get their taste mainly from the ingredients and the way of cooking, not the meat.
Vegan Halim or Haleem (Wheat porridge)
Vegan Abgoosht or Dizi (Mashed beans)
Fast Foods and street food:
Persian street foods are popular among all groups of people, even vegetarian, vegan, or meat eaters. They are so delicious and affordable. You have many options among the different seasonal Persian street foods, including:
Samosa (Potato, cilantro, Parsley, onion, garlic, flatbread)
Balal (Barbequed corn)
Falafel (Pea, onion, garlic, spices)
Laboo (Cooked sweet beetroot)
Baghali (Boiled and spiced fava bean)
Cutlet (Potato, onion, garlic, egg, spices, cilantro, parsley, and pea flour)
Side Dishes and Appetizers:
Vegetarian side dishes and appetizers like salads, fresh green vegetables, yogurt dips, pickles, and bread are in every Iranian restaurant.
There are many types of salads that serve in Iranian restaurants. The most delicious Persian salad is Shirazi Salad, which includes chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dried mint.
Borani, or yogurt dip, is like the Turkish Tzatziki and Indian Raita or Pachadi, which makes of yogurt, baked vegetables, spices, and dried herbs. Usually, eggplant, spinach, and beet are the vegetables used in Borani.
A mixture of yogurt, chopped cucumber and onion, dried mint, salt, and black pepper make one of the best Persian side dishes. You can add other spices and even raisins to it. Mast-o Khiar
with traditional Iranian bread is a complete and delicious vegetarian food.
A plate of mint, basil, parsley, chives, cress, tarragon, radishes, etc. that Iranian eat with their main meal called Sabzi Khordan.
Persian Pickle, called Torshi, is eaten with the main course. The menu of all Iranian restaurants contains it. Different kinds of Torshi have generally made of various vegetables, fruits, aromatic herbs, and spices pickled in vinegar. The most popular one is Torshi Makhloot, a mixture of eggplant, cauliflower, celery, carrot, green pepper, etc. Torshi has rarely eaten alone, and eating it with the main course enhances the flavor of the food.
Zeytoun is olive in Persian. Zaytoun Parvardeh is a vegetarian side dish that originated in the north of Iran, but you can find it all over Iran. It consists of fresh olives, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate paste, walnuts, and herbs.
All Iranian have Traditional Iranian bread such as Sangak, Lavash, Taftoon, and Barbari as a main side dish.
Whether you are a vegetarian or not, we suggest you taste and enjoy Persian bread.