What I’ve noticed about growing up in Australia is that while most people can tell you what a donor kebab is, many wouldn’t know what’s in a Persian chelow kebab (or kabab) or kabab koobideh. And just about everyone’s tasted or made a Greek salad, but how many have tried a Salad Shirazi?
Well-kept secret? Or just not marketed well to the masses? Either way, Persian food is relatively unknown here. So, when I’m asked about Persian food from time-to-time, I’m also met with a few confused looks.
MYTH 1: Persian cuisine is spicy / chilli / hot
No, Persian food won’t leave you furiously fanning your taste buds, sweating, and wiping away tears. Although most recipes call for a blend of mild spices (like saffron), herbs and seasonings, the resulting meals are definitely not, colloquially speaking, spicy.
MYTH 2: Persian recipes are mostly curries
Well, yes and no. The word curry tends to be thrown around quite a bit. It usually refers to stew-like meals featuring a blend of spices, like turmeric, cumin and chilli peppers. There are many stews (we call them ‘khoresht’) in Persian cuisine, but the flavours come from a blend of herbs, pickled vegetables and fruits, rather than ground spices alone.
MYTH 3: Persian cuisine is synonymous with Middle Eastern / Mediterranean cuisine
Middle Eastern or Mediterranean are broader terms that include neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Greece. So in the same way describing a country’s cuisine as American, Asian or African is simplistic, so too is describing a cuisine as Middle Eastern or Mediterranean. While there are similarities between meals in Middle Eastern countries, they are each unique in their distinct flavours, aromas and cooking styles.
MYTH 4: Kebabs are a greasy, fatty take-away food reserved only for the boozy night out or when you find yourself in a food court, hungry and alone
It’s time you discover the kebab koobideh, joojeh, jigar and kebab e barg.