Vegetarian Food in Iran for Tourist

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Is Vegetarian Food Available in Iran for Tourist?

As a vegetarian tourist, finding vegetarian food in Iran could be one of your main concerns.

However, since meat is found in most Iranian dishes and most restaurants don’t offer exclusive vegetarian dishes, there are still various vegetarian options in Persian food. On the other hand, the increasing number of vegetarians in Iran has led to the establishment of some vegetarian restaurants in Iran’s major cities.

So if you have a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should search about vegan and vegetarian food in Iran before your trip to avoid confusion and wasting time during your trip.

Since this issue is challenging for many vegetarian tourists in Iran, in this article, we introduce the most popular vegetarian and vegan Persian food and the best vegetarian restaurants in Iran. So stay with us and contact us if you have any questions.

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What Are the Best Vegetarian Food in Iran for Tourist?

As mentioned, your options as a vegetarian traveler are limited. It might seem that your choices limit to street snacks, bread, sweets, something you can find in the supermarkets, and salads. But Iranian cuisine has more vegetarian dishes to offer. Let’s know some Persian vegetarian food that you can find on the menu of most Iranian restaurants.

First of all, if you are vegetarian or vegan, inform your tour guide in advance. Possibly, they can arrange with some restaurants to prepare special vegetarian or vegan dishes that are not on the menu.

Persian Polo (Persian Steamed Rice)

Persian-style steamed rice is called Polo or Polow, generally cooked with vegetables, beans, herbs, etc. Actually, Iranians are used to serving Polo with meat or stew, but Polo itself is Persian vegetarian food.

The most famous Persian vegetarian Polo include Adas Polo (lentil and rice), Baghali Polo (fava bean and rice), Sabzi Polo (herbs and rice), Zereshk Polo (barberry, saffron, and rice), Morasa Polo (nuts with rice), Lubia Polo (green bean with tomato and rice), Dampokht-e Goje or Estamboli (tomato, potato, and rice), etc.

Also, do not forget to try Persian Tahdig. It is made of thin slices of potato, flatbread, or just rice that form a golden crispy layer at the bottom of the pot.

Persian Vegetarian Stew

In Iranian cuisine, stew (Khoresht) plays a significant role. Though it is usually made with meat, its vegetarian and vegan versions are also tasty and rich.

To prepare vegetarian Persian stews, Iranians mix vegetables, legumes, herbs, and spices and seamer them together. Persian Stews are usually served with plain rice called “Chelo.”

You can find vegetarian alternatives to the stews like Khoresht-e Bademjan, Khoresht-e Sabzi, Khoresht-e Gheymeh, Torshi Tareh (Persian sour herb stew), etc. However, as the meatless version of these stews is not common, you need to say that you want to have the vegetarian version before ordering.

Persian Vegetarian Side Dishes and Appetizers

Persian vegetarian side dishes and appetizers are suitable for vegetarians and are also popular among those who eat meat. Iranian tables are full of colorful vegetable side dishes such as salads, yogurt dips, pickles, etc. Interestingly, these types of side dishes and vegetarian appetizers are abundant in most Iranian restaurants.

In the following, we introduce the most popular Persian vegetarian side dishes and appetizers.

Salad

Various salads are served in Iranian restaurants, from seasonal salads to potato and cabbage salads and many more. But one of the most delicious Persian salads is Shirazi Salad, which includes chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, seasoned with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dried mint.

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Boorani (Yogurt Dip)

Boorani or yogurt dip is the mixture of yogurt and fresh or baked vegetables, spices, and dried herbs. The vegetables are usually eggplant, spinach, beet, etc. Persian Boorani is like the Turkish Tzatziki and Indian Raita or Pachadi.

Mast-o- Khiar (Yogurt and Cucumber Dip)

Among Persian vegetable side dishes Mast o Khiar is one of the best; A combination of yogurt and cucumber. This Iranian vegetarian dish is made from chopped cucumber and onion, dried mint, salt, and black pepper. Of course, some people add other spices and even raisins to it. Mast-o- Khiar with traditional Iranian bread is a complete and delicious Iranian vegetarian food.

Kashk-e Bademjan (Curd and Eggplant Dip)

Kashk-e Bademjan is one of the most popular Persian vegetarian appetizers, which many tourists admit is delicious beyond their expectations. Persian Eggplant and Curd Dip is an authentic Iranian dish consisting of eggplant, Kashk (curd), walnuts, garlic, and fried onions, usually served with Sangak bread. The good news is that you can find this vegetarian Persian food in almost all Iranian restaurants.

Sabzi Khordan (Fresh Herb Platter)

Sabzi Khordan is a mixture of fresh herbs that Iranians love to eat with their main meal.

Generally, a plate of Sabzi-Khordan consists of mint, basil, parsley, chives, cress, tarragon, radishes, etc.

Besides, Noon Panir Sabzi, which includes feta cheese, traditional Persian bread, and Sabzi Khordan, is one of the most popular Persian dishes; As breakfast, an appetizer, or a healthy snack, it’s perfect anytime.

Torshi and Shoori (Persian Pickle)

Torshi and Shori are popular Persian side dishes you can find on the menu of all Iranian restaurants. They consist of different kinds of crunchy vegetables pickled in vinegar for Torshi and brine for Shoori. Since they are very sour, particularly Torshi, they are rarely eaten alone. But when you eat them with the main course, they enhance the flavor of the food.

In Iran, there are many kinds of Torshi and Shoori with various vegetables, fruits, and aromatic herbs and spices.

The most common Persian pickle, Torshi Makhloot consists of eggplant, cauliflower, celery, carrot, green pepper, etc., which goes well with most Persian food. As a vegetarian tourist in Iran, we highly recommend having Torshi or Shuri with different kinds of Polow if you are interested in sour and salty flavors.

Zeitoon-Parvardeh (Marinated Olive in Pomegranate and Walnut)

Zeitoon means olive in Persian, and Zeitoon Parvardeh is a vegetarian side dish consisting of fresh olives, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate paste, walnuts, and herbs.

This Persian vegetarian side dish originates from the north of Iran, but you can find it in almost all traditional Iranian restaurants.

KooKoo Sabzi (Persian Herb Frittata)

One of the best Persian vegetarian starters is Kuku Sabzi, a herbed and flavored frittata. This dish consists of eggs mixed with chopped onion, leek, spinach, dill, parsley, etc. Actually, the herbs used in this food vary depending on the season or the local recipe.

Kuku Sabzi is traditionally served during Nowruz (the Persian New Year); the herbs represent rebirth, and the eggs symbolize fertility.

Persian Vegetarian Street Food

Like in other parts of the world, Street food in Iran is popular and affordable. As a vegetarian tourist in Iran, you have many vegetarian options to choose among the seasonal Persian street food, including Balal (barbequed corn), Falafel, Laboo (cooked sweet beetroot), Baghali (boiled and spiced fava bean), fresh walnuts in brine, seasonal soups, etc. On the other hand, having street food in Iran is one of the best ways to reduce travel costs.

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If you are interested in trying street food in Iran, you can pop into Si-e-Tir St., Grand Bazaar, Darband, and Piruzi St. in Tehran, Lashkarabad St. in Ahvaz, Eram St., Meshkinfam St., and Ghodusi Gharbi St. in Shiraz, Shahrdari Square in Rasht, El Goli Park, and Grand Bazaar in Tabriz.

Persian Bread and Pastries for Vegetarian Travelers in Iran

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, you will definitely enjoy the taste of Persian bread and sweets. In Iran, in addition to ordinary bread like French bread that can be found worldwide, traditional Iranian bread such as Sangak, Lavash, Taftoon, and Barbari is cooked in traditional bakeries.

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Besides, as Iranians love sweets, you can find a variety of delicious pastries in confectionery stores. In addition, Iran cities have their own sweets, such as baklava and Qutab of Yazd, Koloocheh Masghati of Shiraz, Gaz of Isfahan, Kolompeh of Kerman, Qorabieh of Tabriz, and many more.

Local Persian Vegetarian Dishes

Interestingly, despite vegetarianism being seen as a modern phenomenon, different parts of Iran have their own vegetarian dishes based on their climates. Accordingly, there is a variety of vegetarian food available in any part of Iran, all of which have flavors that appeal to vegetarians and even meat lovers. Here we introduce some local Iranian vegetarian dishes.

Valak Polo of Tehran

Valak Polo is one of the capital’s dishes prepared with fresh Valak, rice, and garlic stalks. Valak is a plant whose aroma is spicy, and it grows in the spring on the slopes of Alborz near Tehran.

The most common dishes cooked with Valak are Valak Polo (Valak and rice), Valak Soup, and Valak Frittata. You can have Valak pilaf alone or with a fried egg as a unique Persian vegetarian food.

Sirvabij of Gilan Province

Gilan Province is considered a paradise for vegetarians. There is a great variety of Iranian vegetarian food in this province. Sirvabij is one of the local vegetarian foods prepared from fresh and green garlic leaves, eggs, and oil. To make Sirvabij, they fry the chopped garlic leaves and then add the eggs. In Gilan, this food is served with plain rice and traditional pickles.

Mirzaghasemi of Gilan

Mirzaghasemi is another Persian vegetarian dish from the north of Iran, but you can find it in other parts of Iran. This vegetarian Persian food can be served as an appetizer or main dish. It consists of smokey eggplant, garlic, tomato, and egg. You can enjoy this dish with bread or plain rice.

Baghali Ghatogh of Gilan

Baghali Ghatogh is one of the oldest Iranian vegetarian dishes from the north of Iran, mainly Gilan province.

This delicious Persian vegetarian food consists of agricultural fava beans, garlic, eggs, and dill. In Gilan, Baghali Ghatogh is served as a main dish with plain rice. But some restaurants also serve this dish with bread as an appetizer. Other vegetarian foods of Gilan province include “Mirza Ghasemi,” “Torsheh Tareh,” “Fried Cheese,” and “Shish Andaz-e Bademjan.”

Fried Artichoke of Kurdistan Province

Artichoke is a plant that grows in western Iran in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains.

Fried Artichoke is a delicious Persian vegetarian food that originates in Kurdistan Province and the city of Sanandaj. To prepare this Persian dish, artichoke is mixed with flour, eggs, cumin, butter, milk, and saffron. Then they fry it in oil. Fried artichokes are served as an appetizer and as a main dish with bread or plain rice.

Kale Joosh of Isfahan

Kaleh Joosh is a traditional vegetarian Persian food from Isfahan province. Of course, today, this food is cooked in other parts of Iran with different recipes. Interesting Kalejoosh is one of the most nutritious Iranian vegetarian foods consisting of curd, fried mint, fried onion, garlic, and walnuts.

Pakura of Bushehr

Pakura is a vegetarian appetizer or snack that has become very popular among foreign tourists as the main dish. The taste of this food is spicy, and its ingredients are chickpeas, chili powder, leeks, baking soda, and spices. This dish is usually served with yogurt and mint or a kind of local sour-sweet sauce. Some believe that the origin of this food belongs to India.

Eshkeneh Maash of Khorasan

Eshkeneh is a vegetarian Persian dish found in any city. It has been localized in each town by adding a particular ingredient. Its main ingredient is eggs and water and will be appealing to those vegetarians who follow dairy and eggs in their diet. But among all the Eshkenehs, the Eshkeneh Maash of Khorasan is the most famous. This dish is made with onions, chopped potatoes, and eggs. Today, this food has become very popular among vegetarian tourists who travel to Khorasan province.

Persian Food for Vegan Travelers

If you are a vegan traveler in Iran, finding the right food in Iran will be more challenging. Because in Iran, veganism is not as common as vegetarianism. However, you can still enjoy a variety of Iranian dishes suitable for vegans. Just you need to take the initiative or seek help from your tour guide; Check the menu of restaurants and food ingredients. You will definitely find Iranian vegan dishes such as pilaf, salads, pickles, etc. Also, if a portion of food on the menu can be turned into vegan Persian food by removing an ingredient, ask them to remove it from your dish. In addition, some restaurants in big cities such as Tehran also offer a vegan menu.

On the other hand, you can visit Iranian bakeries and enjoy the aroma and taste of traditional Iranian bread. There are also ready-to-eat food packs in supermarkets with their ingredients listed in English on the package.

Other attractive items for vegetarian and vegan tourists in Iran are fresh and high-quality nuts such as pistachios, walnuts, almonds, dried fruits, etc., which you can find in the nut shops that are abundant all over the country.

Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Iran

The restaurants listed below offer dishes to vegetarian and vegan tourists in Iran.

Restaurant City Cuisine
Zamin Vegan Restaurant Tehran Vegan, Organic, Mediterranean, Pasta and Pizza, Juice bar, Persian
Ananda Vegetarian Restaurant Tehran Persian, Lacto Vegetarian, Italian
Pure Vegetarian Cuisine & Café Tehran Vegan, Lacto Vegetarian, Pizza, International, Mediterranean, Juice bar, Breakfast
Iranian Artist Forum Veggie Restaurant Tehran Breakfast, Persian, Mediterranean, Pasta, Hot & Cold Beverages
Green Plate Restaurant Mashhad Vegan, Burgers, Sandwiches, Salads
Reyhan Vegetarian Fast Food Isfahan Vegetarian Fast Food
Zima Vegetarian Restaurant Isfahan Venezuela
Haft Khan International Restaurant Shiraz Vegetarian, Vegan, Pizza, Persian, International
Vegan Cafe Shiraz It is not an exclusive vegetarian restaurant but present a perfect vegan/vegetarian menu
Baharan Echo Restaurant Tabriz Vegan, Pasta, Take out

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