A trip to Iran won’t be any fun if you’re not eating any weird Persian food! It’s always exciting to experience different food cultures and taste dishes that sound, look or taste strange. In Persian food culture, we have dishes that may taste weird to others but in fact, they are adored by many Persians. Others might look weird to us too but at the same time they very delicious and full of flavors.
Here is a list of 10 weird Persian food, which may be strange for tourists. If you haven’t traveled to Iran yet, this could be a guide or even just get you curious.
Weird Persian food: Main dish
#1 Kalle Pache (the sheep’s head and hooves soup)
This is probably the most weird and unusual looking food in Iran. A classic dish made with a sheep’s hooves and its entire head including eyes, brain, and tongue served on a plate. But truth to be told, it’s adored by many Iranians all over the country.
It is typically eaten for breakfast, very early in the morning. An energy booster to lift you up through the day. There are particular restaurants that serve Kalleh Pache, and they are called Kalle Pazi or Tabbakhi. Vendors start selling steaming bowls of this unusual soup before dawn, mostly opening around 4:00 a.m. and serving until 9:00 a.m.
Seasoned with lemon and cinnamon, you can crumble up bread into its broth or put pieces in between a bite-sized bread and have it like a small sandwich. You’ll either hate it or be totally hooked!
#2 Sirabi (tripe soup and stuffed tripe)
Tripe soup is a common weird dish nearly in every country around the world, but in Persian cuisine, Sirabi is considered a traditional dish.
It can be made with the lining of the stomach of a calf, cow or lamb, that must be thoroughly cleaned and cooked for a long time in order to become tender. Tripe is commonly served as a soup, made with onion, garlic, salt, turmeric powder and sometimes chickpea.
Stuffed Tripe could also be a weird Persian food unique to the industrial city of Arak in central Iran. Clean tripe filled with rice, minced meat, split peas, herbs like tarragon and cooked in a sweet and sour sauce, may satisfy a lot of adventurous eaters.
#3 Delo Gholve (Kidney, lung, and heart kebab)
In Persian cuisine, Kebabs play a big exciting role. But not just any kebab! Skewers of sheep’s body parts such as its kidneys, liver, heart, and tail fat can easily put people off, just by looking at them.
Believe it or not, the smell of broil skews of the liver over blazing charcoal would call you towards itself. A drizzle of lime juice, a sprinkle of salt, and fresh basil can balance the flavor. If it’s served with warm bread and a glass of cold Doogh, it might even be tempting.
#4 Ab-Doogh Khiar (Persian cold soup)
Ab-Doogh Khiar is one of the few cold and uncooked soups in the world! A traditional and popular summer Persian dish full of flavor. It has the most unusual combination of ingredients: plain yogurt, water, diced cucumber, raisins, chopped walnut, fresh herbs such as mint and basil and finally seasoned with salt and pepper. We also sprinkle some dried rose petals on top and for extra flavor and crunch, we crumble pieces of toasted bread inside of the soup as well.
Abdoogh Khiar has been part of the Iranian food culture since the ancient Persian era, and it is the most popular summertime dish in our cuisine.
Some serve it as an appetizer, others serve it icy cold for a perfect light lunch or dinner on hot summer days.
Weird Persian food: Snacks
#5 Kahoo Sekanjebin( vinegar syrup with lettuce)
You can definitely consider, lettuce levees dipped in a mint-infused vinegar syrup a weird mixture!
Sekanjebinis is a compound name of vinegar and honey. It’s one of the oldest Iranian syrups made by most grandmothers. It is a perfect midday snack in hot summer days as it’s served with fresh tender lettuce.
The simple way of making this is by simmering sugar, water, and vinegar in a heavy-based pot with fresh mint for extra flavor and aroma.
It’s a must-have treat on a picnic, especially during Sizdehbedar. Sharbat-e-sekanjabin (Sekanjebin syrup) is also served with grated cucumber as a drink, which is very popular in Esfahan.
#6 Kashk (whey)
Kashk can be considered to have an acquired taste for most people other than Persians. It’s almost like whey a tastes something between feta cheese and blue cheese.
You can make a vague approximation by mixing sour cream or crème fraîche with grated parmesan and possibly adding a few pulverized tinned anchovies. This gives you an indication of how weird tasting Kashk could be.
Kashk was traditionally produced from the leftovers of cheese making. Subtracting butter from milk, the remainder is Doogh which could be used as the base of Kashk which would later be dried.
There are many Persian dishes that have liquid Kashk as part of their ingredients like Kashk-e Bademjan (eggplant dip) or even Ash (herb soup).
#7 Gharegurut (Black Kashk)
Ghareghoroot has a super dense sour taste that many Iranians love. This weird Persian food can be eaten as a snack or added to dishes like Ash or stews for a deeper and sharp pungency flavor. If you want to eat this make sure to take a pea-sized of it and not a whole spoon as it can be quite strong.
Weird Persian food: Drinks
#8 Doogh & Gooshfil
A super sweet Gooshfil (pastry)eaten with a glass of salty and sour Doogh (Yogurt drink) It could be the weirdest combination of flavors even to most Iranians.
These two mates might seem a little bit irrelevant and weird, but believe it or not, after each bite of Gooshfil, having a sip of doogh would wash the sweetness down and makes it quite enjoyable!
Gooshfil (elephant ear!) is a crispy golden brown, a traditional sweet made with flour, egg yolk, sugar, and oil, while Doogh is a very popular drink in Iran made from yogurt, water, salt, dried mint and it’s usually served with kebab.
This might seem weird but after tasting them in Esfahan, you may probably like it.
#9 Havij Bastani (Carrot juice float)
A glass of Carrot juice with scoops of saffron ice cream is an unusual Iranian take on an ice cream float.
Having a floating ice cream in a glass of fruit juice can be weird at first but tastes just like a smoothie or even better as Iranians would describe it. It is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.
The saffron and rosewater flavors from ice cream greatly enhance the flavor and aroma of this treat.
Often considered as both a beverage and a dessert, Havij Bastani can be sipped or eaten with a spoon.
Weird Persian food: Desserts
#10Khoresht-e-Mast (Yogurt stew)
In Persian cuisine, the word “Khoresht” mostly refers to stews which are served as main meals alongside rice.
It is interesting to know that Khoresht Mast meaning “yogurt stew” is not a main course indeed. It’s actually a sweet dessert. One of the most palatable but weird desserts you can find in Iran.
It is considered an Esfahani dish made with braise and shred lamb neck, yogurt, and sugar. Brewed saffron and rosewater are also added to give it the gorgeous yellow color and the exotic taste. This meaty dessert is garnished with sour barberries & pistachios.