BEST PERSIAN SPICES
Persia is one of the first civilizations on this earth and is today where modern-day Iran stands. With its geographical location and shifting territories, Persian cuisine pulls on many cultures, including Russian, Greek, Asian, and Armenian.
Persian food is perfect for gluten-free lifestyles, vegetarians, and vegans. Unlike other nations, Persian spices are useful in adding warmth and taste to a dish rather than heat, making it more suitable for those who are sensitive to chilli.
Persian spices and specialized seasoning agents are the keys that make Iranian cuisine unique and plated. Saffron, turmeric, or dried herbs are a few of the traditional flavoring agents essential to a Persian dish.
Iranian food is a repertoire of delicate flavors. From spices to aromatic herbs, nuts, and dried fruits, each one has a delicate part to play in making your soul happy with every spoon or bite of Persian cuisine.
Exploring Persian herbs is a little like taking a lock off a treasure chest: the blinding sight of pink rose petals and green cardamom is followed only by the heady smell and elegant taste of red saffron and golden turmeric.
Overview of the most-used Persian spices
These slender, dried limes have an intense taste of lime. Like ordinary limes, they are both salty and sweet at the same time but are even more vivid due to the mixture of juice and rind. Dried limes are thrown whole into soups and stews such as Ghormeh Sabzi or Gheymeh.
To add them to the food as a whole, you only need a fork to put a few pricks on the outer layer. In this way, the stew hydrates the lime and releases that incredible sour taste.
You can eat the fried limes with your dish, or you can simply squeeze the tart juice in the stew and eliminate the remaining portion.
Compared to other spices such as bay leaves or cinnamon sticks that you can dump after frying, you might also cut the softened limes and eat them along with the dish.
Saffron is a famous spice in Persian cuisine because of its distinctive fragrance for flavoring appetizers, desserts, and rice. It is renowned for its great price, but surprisingly, a little bit of it goes a very long way.
It just requires a teaspoon or less to flavor a whole dish. To prepare saffron for Persian dishes, grind it in a mortar and a pestle or a spice grinder, then soak it in lukewarm water for around half an hour before incorporating it into something you’re preparing.
The red stigma of this pricey Persian spice has been used for seasoning and decoration food for years. This aromatic spice provides so many dishes, a vibrant golden hue, and a delicious fragrance.
Saffron is primarily the coloring agent used to garnish and bring an elite appearance to Persian food, candy, and beverages.
The world loves Persian cuisine, but not too spicy. The trick is that Persian cooks generally do not use either one or two spices but mix various herbs, which end up in the exquisite flavor of dishes.
Advieh is a blend of many spices to enhance the taste and scent of cooking. This unique combination typically contains black pepper, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, angelica, and rose petals. The most popular Advieh in Persian kitchens are:
- Advieh-e Polo for cooking rice with other ingredients like Baghali Polo
- Advieh-e khoresh for flavoring meat and chicken in foods, like Abgoosht.
As one of the world’s longest known spices, cinnamon has a delightful aroma and an irresistible taste that makes it an essential spice in dishes. The cinnamon tree’s brown inner bark is a flavoring component of numerous Persian dishes such as Adas polo, Iranian pastry, and cinnamon tea.
This primary spice in its ground form is useful in several Persian sweets and several savory recipes. It is one of the components of the Persian rice spice.
People claim that cinnamon is an antioxidant that increases insulin sensitivity and also reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One can sprinkle it over cereal, ice cream, rice pudding, or even buttered bread.
The rose used in Persian recipes is from a wild rose plant (Gol Mohammadi) that occurs only in some parts of Iran. The other plants in the rose family are not useful for culinary purposes in Iran.
Rose is cultivated in the spring and is marketed fresh for a limited duration in the spice bazaar. It is used to produce rose jams and tastes good. Later in the season, you can only pick a dried rose to consume. The dried rose is crushed into a powder and used as a seasoning.
It is applied to the savory dishes to add a subtle scented flavor. It also emits a magnificent color palette when spread sparingly over cakes and pastries. Rose petals offers many sweets and desserts such as Shole Zard, Baklava, Traditional Ice Cream, and Faloodeh, a delicate appetizing flavor.
The seeds of the cumin plant are in whole or ground form. This spice is available in black, yellow-brown, and green. It has a very different warm, smoky, spicy taste.
Cumin, as a warm Persian spice, has a slightly sour smell and taste. Cumin fits well with rice to complement its cold nature or offer its unique flavor to various pastries. It brings a distinctive taste to the dish.
Its powder form is among the critical ingredients of the Persian rice spice, but the whole seed is a marvel for the cumin rice mixed with the black cardamom pod. It is also useful in Torshi pickled vegetables.
A part of the ginger tribe, this historically Indian spice is the key ingredient of Iranian cuisine. This bitter spice is widely put in-use to give a yellow-orange flavor to the fruit.
Turmeric blends well with beef, and its sharp flavor masks every other aroma. Be vigilant when using turmeric since the extra amount of turmeric will lend your food a perceptible bitter taste.
By far the most common for its medical benefits, turmeric contains many pharmaceutical properties compounds. Notable among them is curcumin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent credited with a cure for several diseases.
Turmeric has a rich orange-yellow hue in its powder form and is primarily in-use in savory dishes. It is advisable to use it in limited quantities because its bitterness can overshadow other flavors.
Turmeric is there in a ton of recipes, from stews to soups and vegetarian dishes. Turmeric is extensively in-use in Persian and other Middle Eastern dishes.
It is a particular type of wild berry that occurs in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. This spice’s dried coarse powder offers a good flavor of lemon and bright red pop to meaty and poultry dishes, salads, or sauces.
People generally sprinkle sumac over Lebanese salads like Fattoush, but the Iranians typically put a pinch of sumac to their kabab to give it an unexpected angle. Sumac is an aromatic spice that blends citrus’ flavor with saltiness to create a more intense taste.
The spice comes from the ground-up fruit of the sumac vine. Yet it’s also a great meat tenderizer, as well as a hummus garnish and other mezze dishes.
Ginger is in-use as a powder in bread, cookies, and other sweets. The fresh ginger is diced and added to the savory dishes. It’s a warm, fragrant spice. Ginger candy is sweet and juicy, made from thin slices of fresh ginger root.
The ginger preserves are sweet and crunchy with a slightly spicy taste. Fresh ginger root can be removed, finely diced, and frozen in the freezer.
Likewise, people can keep the fresh ginger in the freezer without peeling it and, if required, grated with a sharp small hole grater. Steeped ginger tea with honey and lemon is known to have an anti-emetic effect. Though ginger is in-use in Asia, it is an essential part of Persian culinary.
Black pepper is the most commonly used “hot” spice in Persia. Many medicinal properties have been attributes to pepper, all derived from its “hot and dry” nature.
Use black pepper as an ingredient in recipes to add flavor and spice to meats, fish, vegetables, salad dressings, soups, stir-fries, pasta, and more. You can also add a dash of black pepper to scrambled eggs, avocado toast, fruit, and dipping sauces for a spicy kick.
For most people, spicing up your diet with black pepper is an easy way to add flavor to your meals and reap some health benefits.
Caraway Seeds from Finland are small narrow, oval-shaped grey/brown seeds. They have a strong flavor similar to anise, balanced by a peppery earthiness and a nutty sweetness. Caraway is also referred to by other names like “meridian fennel” and “Persian cumin.”
Caraway seeds are often used in Eastern and Western European cuisine, especially common among German cuisine spices. Use as a spice in bread, chicken or meat dishes, soups and goulash, and more.
When using meats and bread, the seeds are toasted to enhance their flavor before sprinkling them over the dish. Caraway is easily recognizable as a spice in rye and pumpernickel bread and Havarti cheese.
It pairs well with hearty comfort foods like cabbage, pork, potatoes, sauerkraut, turnips, duck, carrots, and sausages. It is often combined with spices like fennel, dill, parsley, salt, pepper, and thyme, to name a few.
Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. They are known for providing their uniquely warm, sweet, and aromatic taste. Add some whole cloves to a warm Persian Beef Stew or ground them up with other Advieh spice ingredients!
Cloves can be in-use whole or ground. People often include ground cloves in spice mixes and entire cloves in recipes to add depth and flavor to a wide variety of foods.
These small dark brown pods help spice up curries, season meats, enrich sauces like Worcestershire sauce, and even flavor spiced baked goods.
Most used Persian herbs
It is the seed (dried fruit) of the mature cilantro plant. The seeds have a taste of lemon citrus when ground. Roasting at low temperature strengthens the taste. It is useful in ground form as a spice in savory recipes.
Coriander is one of the components in a recipe for Persian meat spices. It is commonly in-use as a fragrance ingredient in cosmetics. Coriander has a soupy aroma that combines well with several salads, soups, and stews.
It is the main ingredient for preparing Ghormeh Sabzi or Ash Reshteh because of its tart taste and intense smell.
Whether whole green pods, black seeds, or ground, cardamom is the primary spice in the production of savory dishes, sweets, and drinks.
A touch of this spicy and aromatic spice lifts any dish to an incredibly mesmerizing level. Cardamom is typically the primary flavoring ingredient for its enticing fragrance. It also elegantly accompanies the rose-water and the saffron to intensify the marvel of the aromas.
It requires the fusion of these three for Shole Zard, a Persian rice pudding special dish for unique celebrations such as Ramadan.
The peppery herb is useful as a garnish for main dishes, soup, salad dressing. Parsley is a widely known culinary ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food due to its robust and spicy flavor.
It’s perfect with beef, vegetables, and legumes. Felafel or Salad Olivie tastes divine with a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley.
Cilantro is a fresh herb. All cilantro is coriander, but not all coriander is necessarily cilantro. It’s an often-misunderstood herb that’s such a crucial part of salsa, gazpacho, chimichurri sauce, veggie burgers, and more. Cilantro is an herb with a fragrant, citrusy flavor.
Many people enjoy its refreshing taste and aroma, but others can’t stand it. Interestingly, people that find cilantro repulsive tend to have a genetic trait that makes them perceive cilantro as “foul” or “soapy.”
This herb looks relatively much like fennel, but the scent and flavor are very distinct. It can be used dry, fresh, or frozen. The use of fresh dill is there in Persian Kuku Sabzi & Sabzi Polo, which is also consumed fresh in Sabzi Khordan.
Wispy green dill leaves are a traditional culinary component in a range of recipes in Europe and Asia. Fresh or dried dill leaves add a slightly bitter taste and an exotic fragrance to fish dishes or Persian rice.
The classic Sabzi Polo and Shevid Baghali Polo are two of Iran’s favorite dishes, usually eaten on special occasions such as Nowruz.
A part of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family, Persian Mint is an annual herb that grows from its aromatic leaves. As a new variety of mints on the culinary scene, its use is made most extensively in culinary preparations where a milder flavored mint is needed.
It is often cultivated in gardens as a shelter and can host birds, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Tarragon has a thyme-like flavor and a pine-like scent. It is a typical seasoning element for dressings, soups, chicken, and seafood.
Flavourful tarragon leaves are an essential part of cooking authentic French, Iranian and Turkish dishes. Many medical benefits are also known, including relaxation of insomnia, strengthening the immune system, and avoiding cancer and diseases.
These dried leaves have a rejuvenating, delicious fragrance. Try crushing them over vegetable dishes or crushing them into the base sauces to give them a unique flavor.
This herb is a must-have component in making the famous Iranian dish: “Koofteh Tabrizi” and “Torshi” or even in pickles and Khiar Shoor in Persian style in particular (pickled cucumbers). It is an excellent substitute for salt because of its mild salty flavor.
The dried fenugreek leaves are great aromatic ingredients for cooking. These dried leaves have a warm, savory scent and a faintly nutty, pea-like flavor.
Try crushing them over vegetable dishes or grinding them into the base sauces to give them a delicious flavor. Fenugreek has a slightly sour taste that reminds me of curry. These light green leaves offer a divine flavor and scent to Ghormeh Sabzi when sautéed with garlic and coriander.
The slender green leaves of the leek offer a good semi-onion taste to several of Iran’s cuisines. Chives are used mostly as a garnish and as an aromatic spice.
Chives are usually added at the end of the cooking procedure since they lose taste while cooking them. Chive blends well with parsley, tarragon, and chervil.
It can be consumed raw or steamed and sautéed as an omelet filling or in various Persian Ashes. or vegetarian dishes like Kuku Sabzi.
The sautéing of spices improve their depth and pungency. Some herbs, such as turmeric, must be toasted to give their delicate flavor notes, but others, such as sumac, should be incorporated well before serving.
Persian spices are readily available in local bazaars in any city across Iran, in Attari (traditional herbal medicinal and spice market stalls), or in substantial grocery stores. It’s easier to organize spices in securely packed glass pots.
Humidity and heat would have a powerful impact on the quality of the herbs. Keeping them in cold, dry, and dark places is advisable.