The Most Popular Iranian Dishes Around the Country

Spinach and plums stew
Spinach and plums stew | © Hamed Fazllollahi / Wikimedia Commons

Iran is a great destination for a foodie. Although kebab may be the national dish, the cuisine varies around the country, with each city having its own specialty. Read on to find out the must-try dishes of each city and eat your way around Iran.

Mirza ghasemi, Gilan province

The smell of mirza ghasemi alone will entrance you. This vegetarian dish is prepared with loads of garlic mixed with mashed grilled eggplant, tomatoes, and salt, pepper, and turmeric. Eggs are usually beaten into the mixture, but they can easily be left out to make it vegan. Though usually served as an appetizer, it’s so delicious you’ll probably fill up on it with bread before the main course!

Baghla ghatogh, Gilan and Mazandaran provinces

You’ve probably never thought that broad beans could be a comfort food, but baghla ghatogh has the potential to change that. Made with garlic, turmeric, plenty of fresh dill, and soft-boiled eggs, this traditional dish of the northern Caspian region is ridiculously tasty. Often served with rice, it will surely soothe your soul even more eaten by itself or with some warm bread.

Kalam Polo, Shiraz

Not everyone is enchanted by the smell of cabbage, but they might change their mind if they give this Shirazi dish a try. Kalam polo, cabbage rice, is eaten quite often in this city of Persian poets, and the flavor comes from the various fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, chives, basil, tarragon, dill, and summer savory. Served with ‘pigeon head’ meatballs (named for their size), it can also be made vegetarian-friendly by skipping them altogether.

Beryani, Esfahan

Beryani, Esfahan

The pride and joy of Esfahan is beryani. Minced mutton and lungs are cooked in a small pan with a dash of cinnamon and spices and served with almond slivers over warm flatbread. Washed down with a glass of doogh, a salty yogurt drink, this entree is best tried at Beryani Azam where crowds pack in for the lunch option. Given its pleasant location near the river, you can walk it off with a stroll down the city’s famous bridges.
Beryani Azam, Kamal Esmaeel St., Esfahan, +98 31 1212 5730

Shuli, Yazd

Shuli, Yazd

Yazdis will make it their personal mission to ensure you have tried shuli before leaving their desert paradise. Vegan friendly, this soup is loaded with greens like spinach, parsley, leeks, and fenugreek along with white beetroot, celery, and spices. Vinegar or pomegranate paste is usually added to boost the flavor with a kick of acidity. Locals will swear you haven’t tried shuli until you’ve had the homemade kind, but the Silk Road Hotel offers a rather tasty option in the meantime.
Silk Road Hotel, Jame Mosque Street, Taleh Khakestary Alley No. 5, Yazd, +98 353 6252730

Shuli is a vegan-friendly soup | © Pontia Fallahi

Shuli is a vegan-friendly soup | © Pontia Fallahi

Kufteh, Tabriz

The sheer size of Tabriz’s kufteh is impressive in and of itself. These giant meatballs are made of mashed split peas, rice, onions, meat, and various spices which are flattened like a dough. It’s then stuffed with a whole boiled egg, barberries, prunes, and walnuts before being wrapped in a cheesecloth and boiled. The juice is served as a separate dish like a soup with shredded pieces of traditional flatbread. Afterwards, the meatballs, which are also eaten with bread, are served with pickled vegetables or a plate of fresh herbs.

Kufteh Tabrizi

Boz ghormeh, Kerman


Boz ghormeh, Kerman

Boz is Persian for ‘goat’ and ghormeh for ‘stew’. It’s easy to put the pieces together then and guess that Kerman’s traditional dish is a stew of goat meat with chickpeas, onions, and garlic. It’s quite similar to the mashed portion of the famous dizi, only it’s topped with kashk, a kind of thick, fermented yogurt, and served with flatbread. A great place to try it is in the traditional restaurant of one of Kerman’s most atmospheric places, Shazdeh Garden, a literal oasis in the desert.
Bagh-e Shazdeh, Mahan, Kerman

Ghalyeh mahi, Ahvaz

Ghalyeh mahi is a lesser-known dish as it’s typically only made in the south of Iran in the Khuzestan province. White fish can be substituted with shrimp in the stew which consists of a melange of flavors like fresh cilantro and fenugreek, garlic, and tamarind paste. Iranians tend to categorize foods into ‘hot and cold’, and since fish and cilantro are considered cold, ghalyeh is usually served with pickled garlic, considered to be hot, to balance the pungent flavors.

Shishlik, Mashhad


Shishlik, Mashhad

If there’s one dish that the holy city of Mashhad is famous for, it’s shishlik. These skewered lamb chops are marinated in olive oil and saffron and grilled on the bone. The countryside towns of Shandiz and Torghabe, about 30 minutes outside the city, are full of restaurants serving up this specialty, but if you aren’t going to make to the east side of the country, you can try this ultimate kebab in the appropriately named Shandiz restaurant in Tehran.
Shandiz Restaurant, Saba Blvd, Tehran +98 21 2204 3755

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.