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Lonely Planet Names USA’s Best Regional Desserts

Lonely Planet Names USA’s Best Regional Desserts

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List arrives before upcoming 2013 Lonely Planet food titles

Black and white cookies are an NYC food icon.

Considering that the U.S. is a (relatively young) product of a diverse melting pot, it’s not very easy to identify a certain desserts — yes, even our beloved apple pie — as definitively "American." They’re usually a hybrid of American ingredients and other countries’ recipes. Out of the adapted desserts, though, which ones are the most iconic? Lonely Planet’s Candace Driskell recently tackled this question to come up with a widespread list of "The USA’s Best Regional Desserts."

According to Driskell, although this list of eight desserts was "hard to define," choosing to focus on regions allowed her to find examples of well-loved desserts that Americans have "made their own." She ultimately included info based off Yelp! and other forum posts, as well as family and friend recommendations. The final cut includes regional favorites like black and white cookies, chess pie, and fried Coke.

Lonely Planet food lists like these are precursors to new food and travel titles to be released in the coming year by the well-known travel guide authors, according to Driskell. One of the books to come reportedly features tips from chefs on their favorite places to eat when they’re eating on the road. We’re staying tuned.

Cuisine of New Orleans

The cuisine of New Orleans encompasses common dishes and foods in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is perhaps the most distinctively recognized regional cuisine in the United States. Some of the dishes originated in New Orleans, while others are common and popular in the city and surrounding areas, such as the Mississippi River Delta and southern Louisiana. The cuisine of New Orleans is heavily influenced by Creole cuisine, Cajun cuisine, and soul food. [1] [2] Seafood also plays a prominent part in the cuisine. [1] Dishes invented in New Orleans include po' boy and muffuletta sandwiches, oysters Rockefeller and oysters Bienville, pompano en papillote, and bananas Foster, among others.

Western USA travel guide

Landscapes and legends draw adventurers to the West, where a good day includes locavore dining, vineyard wine-sipping, wildlife-watching, Native American history and outdoor adventure. Lonely Planet is your passport to Western USA, with amazing travel experiences and the best planning advice.

Hike through Yellowstone’s primeval landscape, explore San Francisco’s indie shops and bohemian nightlife, or watch the changing colours of the Grand Canyon all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Western USA and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet’s Western USA Travel Guide:

  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trou-ble spots
  • Honest review for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - Western USA today, history, way of Life, Native Americans, arts & architecture, land & wildlife, food, wine, beer

Coverage includes: Rocky Mountains, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and more

The World's Best Bowl Food

Hearty and healthy, bowl food is very hip right now. We've selected 100 of the most authentic and delicious dishes from around the world and tell you how to make them. From Vietnamese pho and New England chowder to Persian salads and Welsh broth, these are the meals that speak the international language of comfort.

The follow-up to The World's Best Spicy Food and The World's Best Superfoods, The World's Best Bowl Food is packed with one-pot wonders that will set you up for the day, warm the core, and humbly feed friends and family. Alongside each recipe, we detail the history and culture behind the dish, and include 'tasting notes' to help you enjoy it in the most authentic way possible.

  • Chia pudding from Central and Southern America
  • Ful medames from Egypt
  • Zucchini and fig smoothie bowl from the USA
  • Borscht from Russia and Ukraine
  • Jewish chicken and matzo ball soup
  • Tom yam gung from Thailand
  • Nasi goreng from Indonesia
  • Sarawak laksa from Malaysia
  • Risi e bisi from Italy

Stews, braises & hearty bowls:

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content online, on mobile, video and in 14 languages, 12 international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more.

How Sweet it is: Destinations and Their Desserts

Culinary indulgences come easy to the traveler, especially when it comes to something sweet. Most destinations have at least one signature dessert – that one confection that they do so well that certain dish that has history in every bite. Here are six cities and their famous desserts to try:

Turkish Delight in İstanbul

Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir was the most famous of all Ottoman confectioners. He came to İstanbul from the mountain town of Kastamonu in 1777 and opened a shop in the Old City where he concocted delicious boiled sweets and the translucent jellied jewels known to Turks as lokum - and to the rest of the world as Turkish Delight. Today, locals still buy their lokum from branches of the business he began over two centuries ago.

The flagship store of Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir is located near the Spice Bazaar. There are also stores on İstiklal Caddesi and in the produce market at Kadıköy. A more recent family dynasty has been established at Herşey Aşktan, opposite Pera Palace Hotel. Its delicious Turkish Delight can be packaged in decorative boxes, creating a perfect gift to take home to friends and family.

Cheesecake in New York

Sure, cheesecake, in one form or another, has been baked and eaten in Europe since the 1400s. But New Yorkers have appropriated its history in the form of the New York-style cheesecake. Immortalized by Lindy’s restaurant in Midtown, (which was opened by Leo Lindemann in 1921) the version served there – made of cream cheese, heavy cream, a dash of vanilla and a cookie crust – became wildly popular in the ’40s. Junior’s, which opened on Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn in 1929 (and more recently in Midtown) makes its own famous version of the creamy cake with a graham-cracker crust.

During Renaissance and 16th-century Florence, two cooks made ice-cream history: Ruggeri, a chicken farmer who made it to the culinary big time thanks to a sorbet he made for Catherine Medici and Bernardo Buontalenti, a well-known architect who produced a frozen dessert based on zabaglione (a dessert of whipped egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine) and fruit. Both are considered founding fathers of Italy‘s gelato culture. You’ll usually be asked if you want panna (cream) with your ice cream. A good call is si.

Florentines take their gelato seriously. There’s a healthy rivalry among the local gelaterie artigianale (makers of handmade gelato), who all strive to create the creamiest, most flavorful and freshest product in the city. Flavors change according to what fruit is in season. Three of our favorites are: Gelateria dei Neri (semifreddo-style cheaper than its competitors wild flavors like gorgonzola) Gelateria Vivoli (tubs only – eat in the pretty piazza nearby) and Grom (a newcomer using many organic ingredients).

Here are the top 10 most famous Venetian Dishes

Veneto is a pretty rich region under many aspects, above all the gastronomic one. It is easy to see why, given that it is a region that for centuries had commercial relations with distant lands, such as the East (land in which the Venetians learned the use of spices) and Northern Europe. The four key points of Venetian cuisine are: polenta, cod, rice and beans.

Let’s see now the top 10 most famous and delicious Venetian dishes, known all over the world. And remember you can learn to cook any of these dishes with us at Cook In Venice, in any of our cooking classes.

Here are the top 10 most famous Venetian Dishes

1- We start with the notorious Sarde in Saor, sweet and sour sardines. The Saor is the preparation of a dish that sees the mixing of sweet, sour and salty, usually achieved with a combination of a main ingredient, onions and vinegar.

Here are the top 10 most famous Venetian Dishes

2- Local expression of pasta are bigoli, very thick and coarse spaghetti, usually seasoned with fish or game sauces. The most famous combination is Bigoli in Salsa, a salted sardine and onion sauce, one of the oldest recipes of Venice.

3- Rice and risotto are one of the main staples of Venice and Veneto and the first dish that comes to mind in this case is the famous Risi e bisi (rice and peas), the consistency being a mix between a soup and a risotto. Risotto in Veneto is also prepared with bruscandoli and radicchio from Treviso. The Veneto is a land of radicchio, with many different delicious varieties.

4- Cod was introduced to Venice in 1431, when a Venetian captain brought it back to the city after a long stay in Norway. Venetian fell immediately in love with the dried cod and found many ways to cook it, the most international known is Baccalà Mantecato, a creamy soft mousse like dish, mainly served with polenta. All Osterie in Venice offer their version of this very old recipe.

5- The beans of Lamon, in the province of Belluno in the Dolomites is the main ingredient for another world-known recipe, Pasta e Fasioi or Pasta e Fagioli. The Venetian version is not spicy at all, rather more like a creamy pudding, more than a soup and it is usually served with ditalini, which means “little thimbles” in Italian, a small soup pasta.

6- The Fegato alla Veneziana is a second course of Venetian origin, also popular in the rest of Italy for its intense flavor and its unique aroma of onion. At the time of the ancient Romans, the liver was cooked with figs in an attempt to conceal its distinctive odor then later the Venetians replaced the figs with onions, managing to achieve a really delicious dish. The Venetian liver is one of the best known and appreciated preparations of Venetian cuisine, a recipe which is easy to reproduce back home and it is also very economical. Traditionally the liver in question is of beef, in particular of veal.

7- Polenta was introduced in Venice after the discovery of America, but it soon became the main staple of the Republic, very often substituting bread on Venetian tables. Polenta e osei is one of the most typical Venetian dishes, even if a bit unusual for most: the little birds (such as larks and throstles) are cooked on a spit over a fire in the fireplace or in a pan with bacon and sage and served with their sauce on a bed of hot freshly made polenta

8- And with polenta flour you can also make the Zaleti, the most famous and traditional of all Venetian cakes. These cookies. recognizable by the warm yellow color and the coarse look, due to the maize flour, were typical of the Carnival in Venice, but now they can be found in all the pastry shops and bakeries all year round and are also considered as bringing good luck.

Frittelle alla Nutella by Cook In Venice

9- The most famous traditional Carnival sweet is for sure Frittelle, little sweet fried dumplings, which used to be fried and sold on the streets of Venice by the fritoleri since the Middle ages. they can be prepared with raisins or as soft bignè and filled with creme patissere or zabaione.

10- Last but not least, the most famous of all cakes (maybe in the world??): Tiramisù. Tiramisù finds its origins in Treviso, only few decades ago, in the 󈨔s, when it was invented by Ada Campeol of the restaurant “alle Beccherie” in Treviso, who created a fresh energy dessert to sustain her while she was nursing her son. She used ladyfingers, coffee, mascarpone cheese and the beaten eggs with the sugar to make the “tiramesù”, later translated by the Venetian dialect in Italian with “tiramisù”. The cake was a huge success, so much so that every year we celebrate the day of Tiramisu, on January 17th, and chefs from all over the world will compete in the recipe.

And now all you have to do is coming over to Venice and sample all of these delicacies!

What to drink in Croatia

We can’t end the post on Croatian food without touching base with popular drinks in Croatia.

Croatia has a long tradition of wine-making. And in the last decade, it only got better and more exciting. Long gone are times when Croatian wine was simply white or red, now young winemakers produce lovely natural wines that are exported all over the world.

When in Croatia make sure to taste local wines, and to visit a couple of local wineries.

Craft beer

Photo credit: Craft Brewery – LAB

Just a few years ago Croatian beer scene consisted of industrially produced lagers, with Karlovacko and Ozujsko being the most popular ones.

However, with exciting new microbreweries popping all over the country, the craft beer revolution is here to stay. Now in many bars and pubs, you can order a variety of local craft beers.

If you are into craft beer, then taste some of the local favorites like Zmajsko, Garden, Nova runda, or San Servolo. Or just go and seek out the new beer stars.


Schnaps, grappa, or as local calls it rakija is super popular in Croatia. It’s a local brandy made of grapes. The basic one is called Loza, pure grape brandy.

The variety of grappa happens when different fruits and plants are added to this brandy.

The popular rakija in Croatia are medica, grappa with honey travarica, a grappa made of herbs orahovaca, grappa with walnuts biska, grappa with mistletoe rogac, grappa with carob mirta, with myrtle etc.

Many restaurants, particularly in Istria, offer a glass of grappa as a digestive on the house at the end of a meal.


Extremely sweet dessert wine, Prosek, comes from Dalmatia. It’s made from dried grapes in a similar way that Italians make Passito or straw wine.


Cherry brandy made with Marasca cherries, grown in the region of Zadar, is a must-try while in Croatia. First made by monks in the Dominican Monastery in Zadar back in the 16th century, Maraschino is one of the most authentic drinks, and souvenirs, you can have in Croatia. They say that maraschino brandy was even served on Titanic during its fatal voyage, and it was also appreciated among English and French noblemen and rulers, like Georges IV, Louis XVIII, and Napoleon I.

Cuban Cuisine: Cuban Street Food & Cuban Snacks / Starters / Sides

Typical Cuban Food you’ll find for snacks or as Cuban street food.

Croquettas (Croquettes)

Croquettas are deep fried potato balls, often the potato dough is mixed with ham and cheese, or a limited variety of other ingredients.

Street Pizza

Cuban Street Food: Street Pizza

For around 70 cents US, you can get a tasty Cuban pizza at any number of hole in the wall vendors.

The Cuban pizza is a fluffy medium pan base and is cooked in a frying pan – leading to a crispy sear on the bottom. The biggest surprise is the cheese, it tastes like a semi mature cheddar. Not a mild gouda, manchego or edam but a proper strong yellow cheese. It’s great!

The corner pizza places appear every few streets and along with fresh made dough, and consistently the same type of cheese – We assume a “standard” communist cheese that is the same everywhere around Havana and elsewhere – you can also get some ham, chorizo, olives and other toppings, depending on what they have that day.

Cuban Empanadas

The word empanada comes from the Spanish word empanar – which simply means to wrap in bread. With the usual produce availability issues, Cuban empanadas in Cuba can end up being as unusual as using yesterday’s sandwich bread and deep frying it with some ham and cheese inside.

More typically, a bread dough filled with picadillo (Slow cooked ground beef) or perhaps an Empanada Gallega: Stuffed with well-seasoned chicken and veggies, is deep fried.

Yuca Con Mojo / Boniato Con Mojo – What is “Mojo”

Cuban Snacks: Yuca con Mojo

Turn boring boiled yuca into a fun snack by drizzling it with mojo sauce.


Cuban Street Food: Churros

The famous deep fried, crispy dough, like many of the dishes here, didn’t originate in Cuba. In fact, it didn’t originate in Latin America at all. But like everywhere else in the Americas, churros are a decadent street food that may be either Spanish or Portuguese in origin, and you’ll see them being sold on a few street corners around Havana.

MediaNoche – Midnight Sandwich

With roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles, this is almost identical to a Cuban sandwich, save for the bread, a sweeter eggy bread.

It’s named the midnight sandwich because it’s common to find it as a post-drinking Cuban street food to be eaten after midnight. Our search for this in Havana failed, and the one we tried bared no resemblance to the tasty description.

Fresh Fruits

Cuban Street Food: Fresh Fruit

Carts selling fresh fruit may be seen on street corners. Pineapples, bananas, mangos and whatever else is in season. With Cuba being the ideal climate for year round fruit production, plus so many import restrictions, fruit from these carts will always be locally grown.

Maduros – fried sweet plantains

Sweet, ripe plantains are deep fried producing a soft on the inside, slightly crisped on the outside little pop of sweet & salty goodness. Often served along with beans and rice, with meat dishes.

Tostones & Tostones Rollos

Tostones are twice fried green (unripe) plantains. Fried to go crispy like thick chips. A cheap Cuban snack.

Tostones rollos (Sometimes tostones rellenos) are green plantains, or little green plantain dough cups, stuffed with something like shredded or ground beef, or any leftovers available.

Fufu is the mashed potato style version of plantains. Sometimes made with a mix of mashed green & sweet plantains – or just with medium ripened plantains. Often mixed with garlic and citrus.


Tamales are a traditional meso-American food – existing before the Europeans arrived. They all have the common process of massa dough (made from corn) being wrapped around a filling to make a sort of starchy stuffed tube that is then traditionally cooked inside a corn husk. The main regional difference is the filling, which in Cuba is normally pork, and sometimes with niblets of corn.

Casabe – Yuca Bread

A simple bread made from yuca.

Ecuador Food Favorites

Ecuadorian Market | Photo/Cory Lee

Ecuadorian cuisine is hearty and unique with a diverse whirlwind of flavors, I&rsquom back from Ecuador and ready to share the seven Ecuador foods that all visitors to this equatorial nation must try.

1. Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig | Photo/Cory Lee

If you ever set foot in a traditional outdoor Andean food market, one of the first things you&rsquoll notice are the cages full of guinea pigs. No, it&rsquos not that guinea pigs are the favorite pet of Ecuadorians &mdash instead, they&rsquore a famous Andean delicacy, often cooked or ordered on special occasions. Since my trip to Ecuador was a special occasion, I had to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime chance to try a type of cuisine you won&rsquot find outside these mountains.

If you&rsquore at an Ecuadorian restaurant, simply ask for &ldquocuy&rdquo (pronounced koo-ey, rhyming with &ldquogooey&rdquo). The guinea pig will come roasted on a spit with some delicious side dishes.

Since the small animals usually don&rsquot have a whole lot of meat on them, you&rsquoll probably need to use your hands to lift the cooked guinea pigs to your mouth in order to lick the bones clean. The flavor is quite similar to duck or rabbit, and it&rsquos finger-licking good!

2. Fried Plantains

Fried Plantains | Photo/Cory Lee

Fried plantains are everywhere in Ecuador, and there&rsquos a reason for that! Plantains, which look like large bananas and must be cooked to be consumed, grow abundantly in this tropical country.

Not just a popular Ecuador street food, they&rsquore often served as a side with a meal or can be ordered as an appetizer from an Ecuadorian menu. As a traveler, it&rsquos important to know that there is more than one way to enjoy fried plantains.

Yellow plantains (called &ldquomaduros&rdquo) are ripe plantains, and when they&rsquore fried they are mushy and sweet, almost dessert-like. Green plantains aren&rsquot ripe, so when they&rsquore fried they maintain a crispier consistency.

When green plantains are twice-fried (this is the norm) they&rsquore called &ldquopatacones&rdquo and they&rsquore really good with salt, though some people like to dip them in ketchup or mayo.

3. Chocolate

Cory Lee with Cacao Beans in the Amazon Rainforest | Photo/Cory Lee

Ecuadorian chocolate has been rated as the best in the world. Local Ecuadorian brand Pacari placed first at the International Chocolate Awards more than once, and for good reason. Try unique flavors like rose, lemongrass, chile, coffee, or even Guayusa &ndash a chocolate bar that mixes decadent cacao with a famous Amazonian tea.

Of course, there are many other local brands of world-class chocolate, and I think they&rsquore all worth a try. With its newfound fame, Pacari and other brands of Ecuadorian chocolate can be found everywhere from indigenous artisanal markets to regular old supermarket shelves, so it&rsquos easy for tourists to come by these popular Ecuador desserts.

Pro Tip
Ecuadorian chocolate makes a great gift for those who weren&rsquot fortunate enough to go to Ecuador with you.

4. Ceviche

Ecuadorian ceviche is both flavorful and fresh.

Ceviche is something that can be found in a number of Latin American countries, but no one else does it quite like the Ecuadorians. Ceviche comes in many forms, but its base will always be some type of Ecuador seafood with shrimp, fish, lobster, octopus, crab, oyster, or sometimes a mix of one or more of those. Since Ecuador has a long Pacific coastline, whatever fish you pick, it&rsquos bound to be fresh!

The fish sits in a flavorful broth of its own juice, is spiked with lime and sometimes orange juice, and is complemented with finely chopped tomatoes, green peppers, and red onions. It&rsquos often consumed with a side of crunchy plantain chips, which locals love to crush and mix in.

In other countries, like Costa Rica and Peru, ceviche is made by letting raw fish sit in lime but that gives it a tart flavor that many who are new to this type of cuisine don&rsquot enjoy. In Ecuador, however, the fish (or other types of seafood) is often cooked, giving the ceviche a much better consistency, with the flavor of lime present but not overwhelming.

5. Viche

Viche | Photo/Cory Lee

Since the names are so similar, many travelers confuse viche with ceviche. In reality, the only things they have in common are that they contain seafood and they&rsquore both exceptionally tasty!

Unlike ceviche, which is served cold or room temperature, viche is a thick, hot soup. It&rsquos usually made with fish, shrimp or both which cook in a thick broth made from ground peanuts and water.

In addition to the fish, this Ecuadorian soup includes vegetables like corn, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, yucca, sweet plantain and a surprise treat of peanut and green plantain rolled up into a rich, meatball-esque shape. Often consumed with a little bit of rice, this is one of the heartiest soups you&rsquoll ever taste. Viche is a great and filling fuel for your vacation.

6. Bolon de Verde

By tasting a bolon, you&rsquoll witness yet another innovative way that locals base the Ecuador cuisine around the plantain. Green plantains are cooked and smashed, making up a doughy base which is then usually mixed with cilantro as well as an additional ingredient like ground peanuts, local cheese or pork. Sometimes both cheese and pork are added to the mix.

My favorite part about eating a bolon is that you can find it anywhere &ndash on the menu at restaurants and cafes (often for breakfast) or readily available as street food. It makes an excellent breakfast, a light dinner or a filling snack.

7. Encebollado

Encebollado may be Ecuador&rsquos famous hangover cure, but even many sober tourists laud Encebollado as a perfect breakfast or late-night snack. Encebollado is one of those Ecuadorian dishes that Ecuadorian grandmothers cook best, and many families from the coast have their own secret recipes that they swear by. Basically, it&rsquos a stew made with tuna fish and yucca, cooked in an energizing broth filled with mellow spices, red onions, and cilantro.

If you&rsquore eating Encebollado in Guayaquil, one of Ecuador&rsquos major cities, it will often be served with rice and/or large pieces of toasted corn. If you&rsquore eating it coastal style, you&rsquoll find it served with plantain chips which are meant to be crushed up and mixed in.

Perhaps my favorite part about encebollado is that everyone likes to add his or her own touch &mdash some people season it with a dab of ketchup or mustard, while others like to top it with lime juice, hot sauce, or even oil.


Rice Edit

The usage of rice, at first a specialty of the Safavid Empire's court cuisine, evolved by the end of the 16th century CE into a major branch of Iranian cookery. [17] Traditionally, rice was most prevalent as a major staple item in northern Iran and the homes of the wealthy, while bread was the dominant staple in the rest of the country.

Varieties of rice in Iran include gerde, domsia (literally meaning black-tail, because it is black at one end), champa, doodi (smoked rice), Lenjan (from Lenjan County), Tarom (from Tarom County), anbarbu, and others.

The following table includes three primary methods of cooking rice in Iran.

Using potatoes as tadig in chelow-style rice-cooking

Bread Edit

Second, only to rice is the production and use of wheat. The following table lists several forms of flatbread and pastry-bread commonly used in Iranian cuisine.

Fruits and vegetables Edit

Agriculture of Iran produces many fruits and vegetables. Thus, a bowl of fresh fruit is common on Iranian tables, and vegetables are standard sides to most meals. These are not only enjoyed fresh and ripe as desserts but are also combined with meat and form accompaniments to main dishes. [20] When fresh fruits are not available, a large variety of dried fruits such as dates, fig, apricots and peach are used instead. Southern Iran is one of the world's major date producers, where some special cultivars such as the Bam date are grown.

Vegetables such as pumpkins, spinach, green beans, fava beans, courgette, varieties of squash, onion, garlic and carrot are commonly used in Iranian dishes. Tomatoes, cucumbers and scallion often accompany a meal. While the eggplant is "the potato of Iran", [21] Iranians are fond of fresh green salads dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, chili, and garlic.

Fruit dolma is probably a specialty of Iranian cuisine. The fruit is first cooked, then stuffed with meat, seasonings, and sometimes tomato sauce. The dolma is then simmered in meat broth or a sweet-and-sour sauce. [22]

Verjuice, a highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes or other sour fruit, is used in various Iranian dishes. [23] It is mainly used within soup and stew dishes, but also to simmer a type of squash dolma. Unripe grapes are also used whole in some dishes such as khoresh e qure (lamb stew with sour grapes). As a spice, verjuice powder (pudr e qure) is sometimes reinforced by verjuice and then dried.

Advieh or chāshni refers to a wide variety of pungent vegetables and dried fruits that are used in Iranian cuisine to flavor food.

One of the traditional and most widespread Iranian spices is saffron, derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. Rose water, a flavored water made by steeping rose petals in water, is also a traditional and common ingredient in many Iranian dishes.

Persian hogweed (golpar), which grows wild in the humid mountainous regions of Iran, is used as a spice in various Iranian soups and stews. It is also mixed with vinegar into which broad beans are dipped before eating.

Some other common spices are cardamom—made from the seeds of several Elettaria and Amomum plants, shevid—an annual herb in the celery family Apiaceae, mahleb—an aromatic spice made from the seeds of Prunus mahaleb, and limu amani—dried lime.

There are also several traditional combinations of spices, two of which are arde—made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds, and delal sauce—made of heavy salted fresh herbs such as cilantro and parsley.

Typical Iranian cuisine includes a wide variety of dishes, including several forms of kebab, stew, soup, and pilaf dishes, as well as various salads, desserts, pastries, and drinks.

Main course Edit

Kebab Edit

In Iran, kebabs are served either with rice or with bread. A dish of chelow white rice with kebab is called chelow kabab, which is considered the national dish of Iran. The rice can also be prepared using the kateh method, and hence the dish would be called kateh kabab.

The following table lists several forms of kebab used in Iranian cuisine.

Stew Edit

Khoresh is an Iranian form of stew, which is usually accompanied by a plate of white rice. A khoresh typically consists of herbs, fruits, and meat pieces, flavored with tomato paste, saffron, and pomegranate juice. Other non-khoresh types of stew such as dizi are accompanied by bread instead of rice.

Several Iranian stew dishes are listed within the following table.

Soup and āsh Edit

There are various forms of soup in Iranian cuisine, including sup e jow ("barley soup"), sup e esfenaj ("spinach soup"), sup e qarch ("mushroom soup"), and several forms of "thick soup". A thick soup is referred to as āsh in Iran, which is an Iranian traditional form of soup. [34] Also, shole qalamkar is the Iranian term for "Hodge-Podge" soup, [35] a soup made of a mixture of various ingredients.

The following table lists a number of soup and āsh dishes in Iranian cuisine.

Polow and dami Edit

Apart from dishes of rice with kebab or stew, there are various rice-based Iranian dishes cooked in the traditional methods of polow and dami.

Polow is the Persian word for pilaf and it is also used in other Iranian languages, in the English language it may have variations in spelling. A polow dish includes rice stuffed with cuts of vegetables, fruits, and beans, usually accompanied by either chicken or red meat. Dami dishes are similar to polow in that they involve various ingredients with rice, however they are cooked using the dami method of cooking the dish all in one pot.

The following are a number of traditional Iranian rice-based dishes:

Other Edit

Appetizers Edit

Desserts Edit

In 400 BC, the ancient Iranians invented a special chilled food, made of rose water and vermicelli, which was served to royalty in summertime. [46] The ice was mixed with saffron, fruits, and various other flavors. Today, one of the most famous Iranian desserts in the semi-frozen noodle dessert known as falude, which has its roots in the city of Shiraz, a former capital of the country. [47] [48] Bastani e zaferani, Persian for "saffron ice cream", is a traditional Iranian ice cream which is also commonly referred to as "the traditional ice cream". Other typical Iranian desserts include several forms of rice, wheat and dairy desserts.

The following is a list of several Iranian desserts.

Snacks Edit

Cookies appear to have their origins in 7th-century Iran, shortly after the use of sugar became relatively common in the region. [50] There are numerous traditional native and adopted types of snack food in modern Iran, of which some are listed within the following table.

Drinks Edit

Iran is one of the world's major tea producers, [54] [ better source needed ] mostly cultivated in its northern regions. In Iranian culture, tea (čāy) is widely consumed [55] [56] and is typically the first thing offered to a guest. [57] Iranians traditionally put a lump of sugar cube in the mouth before drinking the tea. [58] Rock candies are also widely used, typically flavored with saffron.

Iran's traditional coffee (qahve, or kāfe) is served strong, sweet, and "booby-trapped with a sediment of grounds". [59] In 16th-century Safavid Iran, coffee was initially used for medical purposes among the society. [60] Traditional coffeehouses were popular gatherings, in which people drank coffee, smoked tobacco, and recited poetry—especially the epic poems of Shahnameh. [61] In present-day Iran, cafés are trendy mostly in urban areas, where a variety of brews and desserts are served. [59] Turkish coffee is also popular in Iran, more specifically among Iranian Azeris. [62] [63]

Wine (mey) has also a significant presence in Iranian culture. Shirazi wine is Iran's historically most famous wine production, originating from the city of Shiraz. [64] [65] [66] By the 9th century, the city of Shiraz had already established a reputation for producing the finest wine in the world, [65] and was Iran's wine capital. Since the 1979 Revolution, alcoholic beverages have been prohibited in Iran though non-Muslim recognized minorities (i.e. Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians) are allowed to produce alcoholic beverages for their own use. [67] While non-alcoholic beer (ābjow) is available from legal outlets, other citizens prepare their alcoholic beverages illegally through the minority groups [68] [69] [70] and largely from Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey. [71]

Araq sagi, literally meaning "doggy distillate", is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage in Iran which contains at least 65% pure ethanol. It is usually produced at homes from raisins, and is similar to Turkish rakı. [72] Prior to the 1979 Revolution, it had been produced traditionally in several cities of Iran. Since it was outlawed following the 1979 Revolution, it has become a black market and underground business.

The following table lists several Iranian cold beverages.

Azerbaijani cuisine Edit

The Azerbaijani people, living primarily in the region of Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran, have a number of local dishes that include Bonab kabab (Binab kababı), [76] the dumpling dish of joshpara (düşbərə), a dish identical to the Scottish haggis that is called jaqur-baqur, [77] a variety of āsh called kələcoş, [78] a variation of qeyme that is called pıçaq, and a variation of kufte that is called Təbriz küftəsi. There is also the traditional pastry of shekerbura (şəkərbura), which is identical to Khorasan's shekarpare (šekarpāre). Despite the influences from Turkey, the food tastes noticeably Iranian, though also with its own unique features, such as using more lemon juice and butter than other groups of Iranians. [79]

Balochi cuisine Edit

Meat and dates are the main ingredients in the cuisine of Iran's southeastern region of Baluchistan. [80] [81] Rice is primarily cultivated in the region of Makran. [80] [81] Foods that are specific to the Iranian region of Baluchistan include tanurche (tarōnča tanurče), a local variety of grilled meat that is prepared in a tanur, doogh-pa (dōq-pâ), a type of khoresh that contains doogh, and tabahag (tabâhag), that is meat prepared with pomegranate powder. [80] [81] Baluchi cuisine also includes several date-based dishes, as well as various types of bread. [80] [81]

Caspian cuisine Edit

The southern coast of the Caspian Sea, which consists of the Iranian provinces of Gilan, Mazanderan, and Golestan, has a fertile environment that is also reflected in its cuisine. [82] [83] Kateh is a method of cooking rice that originates from this region. [84] This type of rice dish is also eaten there as a breakfast meal, either heated with milk and jam or cold with cheese and garlic. Caviar fish roes also hail from this region, and are typically served with eggs in frittatas and omelettes. Local cookies (koluče) of the region are also popular. [83]

Kurdish cuisine Edit

The region of Kurdistan in western Iran is home to a variety of local āsh, pilaf, and stew dishes. [85] Some local Kurdish dishes include a traditional grilled rib meat that is called dande kabāb, [86] a type of khoresh made of chives that is called xoreš-e tare, [87] and a dish of rice and potatoes that is called sib polow. [88]

Southern Iranian cuisine Edit

The food of southern Iran is typically spicy. [89] Mahyawa is a tangy sauce made of fermented fish in this region. [ citation needed ] Being a coastal region, Khuzestan's cuisine includes especially seafood, as well as some unique local beverages. [90] In southern Khuzestan, there is also a variation of kufte that is known as kibbeh and is made of ground meat, cracked wheat, different types of herbs and vegetables and various spices.

Turkmen cuisine Edit

Iran's Turkmen people are predominantly centered in the Iranian provinces of Golestan and North Khorasan. Chegderme (čekderme) is a Turkmen dish made of rice, meat, and tomato paste. [91]

Meals Edit

Breakfast Edit

The basic traditional Iranian breakfast consists of a variety of flat breads, butter cubes, white cheese, whipped heavy cream (sarshir often sweetened with honey), and a variety of fruit jams and spreads.

Many cities and towns across Iran feature their own distinct versions of breakfast dishes. Pache, a popular traditional dish widely eaten in Iran and the neighboring Caucasus, is almost always only served from three in the morning until sometime after dawn, and specialty restaurants (serving only pache) are only open during those hours.

Lunch and dinner Edit

Traditional Iranian cooking is done in stages, at times needing hours of preparation and attention. The outcome is a well-balanced mixture of herbs, meat, beans, dairy products, and vegetables. Major staples of Iranian food that are usually eaten with every meal include rice, various herbs, cheese, a variety of flat breads, and some type of meat (usually poultry, beef, lamb, or fish). Stew over rice is by far the most popular dish, and the constitution of these vary by region.

Traditional table setting and etiquette Edit

Traditional Iranian table setting firstly involves the tablecloth, called sofre, and is spread out over either a table or a rug. Main dishes are concentrated in the middle, surrounded by smaller dishes containing appetizers, condiments, and side dishes, all of which are nearest to the diners. When the food is perfectly served, an invitation is made to seat at the sofre and start having the meal.

Although the Arabic cookbooks written under the rule of the Abbasid Caliphate—one of the Arab caliphates which ruled Iran after the Muslim invasion—include some recipes with Iranian names, the earliest surviving classical cookbooks in Persian are two volumes from the Safavid period. The older one is entitled "Manual on cooking and its craft" (Kār-nāmeh dar bāb e tabbāxī va sanat e ān) written in 927/1521 for an aristocratic patron at the end of the reign of Ismail I. The book originally contained 26 chapters, listed by the author in his introduction, but chapters 23 through 26 are missing from the surviving manuscript. The recipes include measurements for ingredients—often detailed directions for the preparation of dishes, including the types of utensils and pots to be used—and instructions for decorating and serving them. In general, the ingredients and their combinations in various recipes do not differ significantly from those in use today. The large quantities specified, as well as the generous use of such luxury ingredients as saffron, suggest that these dishes were prepared for large aristocratic households, even though in his introduction, the author claimed to have written it "for the benefit of the nobility, as well as the public."

The second surviving Safavid cookbook, entitled "The substance of life, a treatise on the art of cooking" (Māddat al-ḥayāt, resāla dar ʿelm e ṭabbāxī), was written about 76 years later by a chef for Abbas I. The introduction of that book includes elaborate praise of God, the prophets, the imams, and the shah, as well as a definition of a master chef. It is followed by six chapters on the preparation of various dishes: four on rice dishes, one on qalya, and one on āsh. The measurements and directions are not as detailed as in the earlier book. The information provided is about dishes prepared at the royal court, including references to a few that had been created or improved by the shahs themselves. Other contemporary cooks and their specialties are also mentioned. [92]