Iranians generally serve meals in the centre of a table; people then help themselves. Iranian cooking uses many fresh herbs, spices, nuts and fruits. Common Iranian seasonings include dried limes, pomegranate juice, cinnamon, turmeric, sumac and saffron, but every region of Iran has its own favourite seasonings and special dishes.

A typical breakfast might include eggs, butter, bread, honey and soft feta cheese. The biggest meal of the day is eaten at midday. Rice is almost always present, either as chelo (plain rice) or polo (rice mixed with fruits, vegetables or meat). The most popular meats are lamb and chicken, though the latter is expensive. Pork, forbidden to Muslims, is rarely eaten in Iran, while beef is considered an inferior meat, suitable for a family meal, but not for guests. In the countryside, people may also eat goat, camel and buffalo.

Iranians often serve meat grilled and skewered (kabab) or minced into a slowly cooked stew (khoresh). Chelo kabab is meat with plain rice, and fesenjan is a type of stew made with duck or chicken, pomegranate juice and walnuts. Khoreshe mast is stew with yoghurt, while khoresh bademjan features eggplant. Vegetable dishes include salads and types of dolmeh, in which mixtures of meat, vegetables and rice are stuffed into grape leaves. Most lunches are served with large amounts of bread (nan).

In northern Iran people eat large suppers, but elsewhere most evening meals are light and eaten after 7:00 p.m. If there is no company, supper might consist of an omelette, sandwiches or kuku (potato or cooked vegetables with egg).

People snack after supper and between meals with tea, cookies, pistachios, pastries and the wonderful fruits of Iran: cherries, plums, strawberries, melons and pomegranates. Tea (chai) is the national drink and usually served sweetened, but carbonated fruit drinks and yoghurt-based drinks, are also popular. Guests in the home are usually offered tea, fruits and sweets.

  Potato Kuku

5 potatoes
3 eggs
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
salt to taste
oil for frying


Boil the potatoes until tender. Peel and mash them, then place in a large bowl. Break the three eggs into the bowl, then add the curry powder and salt. Mix well. In a frying pan, heat some oil. Form the egg-potato mixture into patties, using about one-quarter cup of mixture per patty. Fry at medium heat on both sides until golden brown. Place on a platter and decorate with sliced tomato, onion and/or chopped parsley.

  Did you know?
Iran produces the world's best dates, which are one of the country's most lucrative exports. The prophet Mohammed recommended eating dates, and they are often eaten as a way of breaking the fast of Ramadan. Iranians also use dates to produce date juice, date honey and date vinegar.