They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Iranians don’t take this lightly. From the types of bread, to the heavy meat dishes and tea etiquette, we break down how to eat breakfast like an Iranian to help you fit right in with the locals.
The ultimate staple of a traditional Iranian breakfast is bread, which is bought fresh daily. Cities may have specific local varieties, but the three standard ones are: noon-e barbari, an long, oval shaped bread with deliciously chewy and doughy ends, noon-e sangak, wheat flatbread baked on rocks, and noon-e tâftoon, a large, round, white flatbread.
Sweet items such as butter, jam (especially sour cherry, carrot, or quince), clotted cream, and honey pair particularly well with barbari bread, and savory items like feta cheese, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, and walnuts go especially well with sangak bread.
Iranians drink tea all throughout the day, starting with the first piping hot glass at breakfast time. Much in the same way that Italians drink cappuccino only in the morning, Iranians have chai shirin, tea with granulated sugar, only at breakfast. At other times of the day, sugar cubes, dates, raisins, or something else sweet is used.
There’s only one kind of omelette in Iran, and that’s eggs scrambled with fresh tomatoes and/or tomato paste. Sangak bread is the best match for omelette, which is served with a plate of fresh herbs and onions.
Iranians fall into two categories—those who love kaleh pâcheh, and those who don’t. Kaleh pâcheh, or head and hoof stew, consists of the sheep head, hooves and everything in between boiled in water, with onions and plenty of garlic. Everyone has a favorite part—some favor the eyes, others the hooves, but some beloved cuts of meat across the board are banâ goosh—meat from the cheek, and zabân—tongue.
Halim is a thick porridge of meat—lamb, chicken, or turkey—boiled and mashed with wheat until it forms a oatmeal-like consistency. Topped with melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar it’s commonly eaten in the winter, during some religious festivals, or passed out to guests during funeral ceremonies.
Adasi, or lentil soup, is a breakfast item often included in hotel or highway-rest-area breakfast buffets or even along mountain hiking paths. Topped with lemon juice, it’s one of the more healthy, vegan-friendly breakfast options.