How to find good Iranian food

I hardly ever blog Iran, most of all because I’ve never been there, but perhaps the time has come to serve up the meager amount I do know about the place. Let’s start with food, here are a few propositions about Iranian food, at least as it is found in the West:

1. Choose a restaurant which has a diversity of rices, such as zereskh polo (rice with barberries). Or sour cherry rice. The rice you order is a more important decision than the kabob you order. Personally, I like to commit the heresy of loading up a tart rice with a gooey yogurt concoction, such as Mast-o-Mosir, spellings on that one will vary greatly.

2. Choose a restaurant with koreshes, namely stews. The kabobs get boring, Afghan kabobs in this country are usually better anyway, so over time you should end up getting the stews in a Persian restaurant.

3. It is very hard to find Iranian restaurants in the United States which break from the usual medley of offerings. The good news is that there are very few bad Iranian restaurants around.

4. The best Iranian restaurants in this country are probably those in and near Westwood, Los Angeles, not far from UCLA.

5. If you get Iranian bread, it looks boring. But load it up with the spicy green sauce, butter, and yes sliced onion. Then it’s really yummy. Don’t be put off if your bread shows up cold and embedded in plastic wrap, just add the condiments and it will be yummy.

6. I always like the soups, but in this country opt for “minty” over “barley.”

7. Iranian food in Germany and London is also quite good, I don’t think I have had it elsewhere.

8. Buying fesenjan sauce out of a can and cooking with it is much tastier than you might think. This is super-easy and inexpensive. Fesenjan sauce, in case you don’t know, is a kind of walnut and pomegranate mix, for you vegans it works OK with tofu.

9. At the end of writing this post, my own googling led me to a 2009 post I had written on the same topic but had forgotten about completely, it is here if you wish to compare. If nothing else, it shows my views on Iranian food are pretty consistent over time, as is the food itself.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.

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One Response to How to find good Iranian food

  1. Evan Sirota says:

    I learned about Persian food in the 1980’s when I was friends with a Persian co-worker who hailed from the Tehran area. Among the “polo” rices I prefer Baghaala (sometimes also spelled Baghaali) Polo, with the dill weed and fava beans to the zereshk (barberry), albaloo (sour cherry), or shireen (orange peel) polo rices. Now long since out-of-business Pars restaurant in Fairfax used to make a fabulous Adas (lentil) polo that I haven’t found anywhere else.

    Persian laces in Northern Virginia I’ve been to and would return to:
    1. Amoo’s Kabob, McLean, this is where I typically will go for Persian take-out. My experience has been inconsistent – – some nights they’re cooking is great, other times it’s only been so-so.
    2. Rose Kabob, Vienna (I liked their fesenjan and their Aash-e-Reshteh soup. That soup really warmed me up on cold winter night.)
    3. Shamshiry – they will serve baghaali polo with salmon, too.
    4. Moby Dick but I typically only go there if I have a Tuesday off work to get their Baghaali Polo lunch special.

    I have not visited Alborz in Tyson’s Corner so can’t comment.
    Neither have I ever tried any Persian places in Maryland or DC.

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