by Daniel Rogov
For more than five hundred years, Iran has boasted one of the most sophisticated cuisines of the Middle East. Herbs and spices are used lavishly but in remarkably gentle combinations, and meat and fruit are frequently cooked together in pleasing ways.
There are ways, however, in which the Iranian kitchen differs from that one usually associates with the region as a whole.
Rice and cracked wheat are the favored starch staples, and are served boiled, steamed or in pilaf with the addition of vegetables, fruits and nuts. Whole, ground or crushed nuts add an unusual but pleasant touch to many dishes. In addition, cardamom and cinnamon find their way into many recipes. To tie Iran even closer to the Far East, tea rather than coffee is the national drink. Apart from caviar, Iran's most famous culinary export, there were few problems in adapting the cookery of this Moslem country to the needs of the kosher kitchen.
Daniel Rogov is the restaurant and wine critic for the daily newspaper Ha'aretz. He is also the senior writer for Wine and Gourmet Magazine and contributes culinary and wine articles to newspapers in Europe and the United States.
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry and Rogov's Ramblings. Reprinted with permission.