There’s a reason Iranian cooking is renowned in the realm of Middle Eastern cuisine: not only can many dishes from that part of the world trace their roots to Persia, but the food is also just plain delicious. It works magic with so many different ingredients: pickled vegetables and dried fruits; spices ranging from delicate, earthy saffron to tart, lemony sumac; waters distilled from herbs and flowers like roses. And while bread is a staple of Persian cuisine, it’s rice that Iranians have elevated to an art form.
A perfect , the elusive crispy crust at the bottom of the pot that’s the highlight of many Persian rice dishes, is a point of pride for home cooks in Iran. And it can be for you, too—check out our best traditional Persian recipes below for tahdig and much, much more. tahdig Persian Tamarind-Stuffed Fish A luxurious whole fish preparation flavored with tangy tamarind and fragrant barberries, perfect for Nowruz, the Persian new year. Find barberries in well-stocked Middle Eastern groceries. Get the recipe for Persian Tamarind-Stuffed Fish » Steamed Saffron Rice with Tahdig (Chelo ba Tahdig) Iranians usually serve chelo ba tahdig with stew, kebabs, or meat dishes. Herbs and alliums, feta, or walnuts often share the table. Get the recipe for Steamed Saffron Rice with Tahdig (Chelo ba Tahdig) » A classic Persian herb-loaded egg dish with the fragrant lift of rose petals. Get the recipe for Persian Kuku Sabzi » Baked Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken (Tahcheen-e Morgh) Bake this tahcheen, a saffron rice with chicken, in a clear glass baking dish so you can check on the crisping of the rice's bottom layer. Get the recipe for Baked Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken (Tahcheen-e Morgh) » Iranian Noodle Soup (Ash-e Reshteh) This spiced vegetable soup is made with reshteh, Iranian noodles. Get the recipe for Iranian Noodle Soup (Ash-e Reshteh) » Persian Lentil Rice with Lavash Tahdig (Adas Polo) A thin layer of lavash bread can be cooked beneath the rice to serve as a tahdig. Press it flat against the pot for even cooking. Get the recipe for Persian Lentil Rice with Lavash Tahdig (Adas Polo) » Ajil (Persian-Style Trail Mix) This traditional Iranian mixture of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits is a nice mix of sweet and salty and will keep for up to two weeks; it first appeared in our December 2012 issue along with Ramin Ganeshram's story Midnight Snack. Get the recipe for Ajil (Persian Trail Mix) » Herbed Rice with Fish Tahdig (Sabzi Polo ba Tahdig-e Mahi) Have a fishmonger remove the branzino's spine and ribs, to make the fish more malleable and prevent bones from sneaking into the rice. Get the recipe for Herbed Rice with Fish Tahdig (Sabzi Polo ba Tahdig-e Mahi) » Yogurt Cucumber Sauce with Rose Petals ( Maast-o Khiar) The use of roses—petals and waters flavored with them—is common in Persian and Middle Eastern kitchens. Naz sprinkles the petals atop this tart, cooling yogurt sauce she serves with crispy rice dishes, and often with stews and meats. Get the recipe for Yogurt Cucumber Sauce with Rose Petals ( Maast-o Khiar) » Lamb Meatballs with Carrots and Potatoes (Koufteh Ghelgheli) Turmeric does double duty here: it goes into the lamb meatballs as well as the lemony broth they're cooked in. Get the recipe for Lamb Meatballs with Carrots and Potatoes (Koufteh Ghelgheli) » For this sweet-tart Persian pickle, whole heads of garlic are fermented in a vinegar solution until the cloves are very soft. Get the recipe for Torshi Seer » Veal and Kidney Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi) Fenugreek, an aromatic dried herb, lends a distinctly floral flavor to hearty veal stew. Get the recipe for Veal and Kidney Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi) » These crumbly rice flour cookies are made using a sugar syrup infused with rose water, a classic ingredient in Middle Eastern sweets. Get the recipe for Iranian Rice Cookies » Test kitchen director Farideh Sadeghin got the recipe for this refreshing melon drink from her Iranian-born father, who makes it by grating fresh cantaloupe and combining it with water, sugar, and fresh mint. You can add a little gin for a cooling summer cocktail. Get the recipe for Persian Cantaloupe Drink » Persian Almond Cake with Saffron and Rose Water Diamonds of this floral, marzipan-like cake are crowned with a crunchy, aromatic mixture of pistachios and cardamom. Get the recipe for Persian Almond Cake with Saffron and Rose Water » Persian Chicken Meatball Soup (Gundi) At the heart of this intriguing soup is a matzo-ball-like dumpling made of ground chicken and chickpea flour. Get the recipe for Persian Chicken Meatball Soup (Gundi) » Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmeh) Grape leaves are stuffed with a beef, herb, and rice mixture in this slightly-sweet version of Iranian dolmeh. Get the recipe for Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmeh) » Persian Herbed Frittatas with Fenugreek (Kookoo Sabzi) This variant of the classic Iranian frittata-like egg dish has become a popular street food in London. Feel free to add walnuts, barberries, or raisins to make it your own. Get the recipe for Persian Herbed Frittatas with Fenugreek (Kookoo Sabzi) »