Street food is not for the faint hearted. You can’t expect quality or even a certain level of hygiene. But let’s be honest, they always tend to taste just that much better than anything else sold in a restaurant. Won’t you agree? 😉
Street food in Iran is a big deal. There’s not a lot of restrictions on what kind of food can be sold out and about. Even if there is, it’s not being monitored that well. So you can expect stalls almost anywhere in the city.
I am personally very much aware of what I eat while travelling. No one wants to ruin a trip feeling sick from food poisoning. But every once in while, I throw caution to the wind and go for the yummy street food and snacks. Let’s just say, once the wafting aroma of roasted corn or cooked fava beans beans reaches my nose, I’m all surrender.
Today I thought I’d make a list of all my favourite street food in Iran. I’ll be arranging them according to season. Keep in mind, that by street food I do not necessarily mean cooked or roasted. The street food scene in Iran varies from fresh fruits, veggies to cooked and baked goodies. Most of these foods are very rich in nutritions and super healthy. The only issue is that you’re never sure if they have been washed properly. However if you do have the patience to take them home and give them a wash like my mum would insist, then it’ll be perfectly fine. It just wouldn’t be street food anymore. duh! 😛
Certain fruits in Iran are very seasonal and are only found a few months around the year. They tend to be expensive, especially at the beginning of their arrival. Greengages are definitely one of them. They are basically green plums picked before getting squishy and changing colour. They are sour and served with a sprinkle of salt and are extremely popular among children.
#2 Green Almonds
Almonds picked early and garnished with salt are another pricy yet tasty street food during spring time. They are only around for a few weeks so make sure you grab some as soon as you find them. Just a tip to remember: the smaller they are, the better. 😉
Or heaven in a fruit roll! I’m a sucker for all things sour like most Iranians, so you can imagine how I feel when I find myself in front of an array of Persian fruit rolls made out of almost any fruit out there! These babies are here to stay all year around, but I prefer them in the hotter season. It has all to do with the Iranian logic of balancing hot and cold ingredients according to your body which is a story for another post.
But among my favourite flavours are: Sour cherries, barberries, pomegranates and plums. I wouldn’t say no to any of them, but the more sour the happier I get. 🙂
#4 Red Mulberries
We are super lucky to have a huge variety of berries in Iran. But red mulberries have to be a favourite.
#5 Cornelian Cherries
These gems are only found in certain parts of the world, so it’s fine if you’ve never even heard of them. Here’s your chance to sprinkle a little salt over them and relish over each and every bite. The softer and bigger they are, the more delectable.
#6 Persian Saffron Ice cream and Faloodeh
It would be a crime to come to Iran and not test the famous Saffron Ice Cream. What would be even a bigger crime is not ordering them Faloodeh! Faloodeh is a cold dessert consisting of thin vermicelli noodles made from corn starch mixed in a syrup of sugar and rosewater. They are to be garnished with lemon juice and are usually served with saffron ice cream. There’s no law in having them both together and you can always ask for them separately. But if Persians have them together, it’s because we know something! The combination just works.
Keep in mind that the best kind of Faloodeh is the one from Shiraz. Yazd and Kerman have a similar version which I’m not a big fan of to be honest. Sorry Yazd! You’re just not good with Faloodeh.
#7 Pomegranate Juice
We Persian love our extra dose of pomegranate. When eating them in the street becomes a trouble, we have the juice instead. 😉
#8 Carrot Juice and Saffron Ice Cream
It’s basically a scoop of saffron ice cream floating in carrot juice. As weird as it might look, it’s actually delicious. Just wait for the ice cream to become half melted in the juice and you’d be thanking me with every sip.
These yummy roasted goodies come with a variety of fillings. Some are filled with susages and meat and others are totally vegeterian. They are typically from the south of Iran, where they also like to make them a bit spicy.
#9 Mexican corn
It doesn’t have anything to do with Mexico but my Mexican aunt approved that they have a similar recipe that is also sold as street food in Mexico. However the Iranian version of Mexican corn is made out of steamed corn, mushrooms, lots of mayonaise, salt, pepper and thyme. I always ask for that extra sprinkle of dried thyme. 😉
#10 Steamed beets
Not a favourite of mine, but many seem to find it delicious. It is found all over Tehran during autumn and winter.
#11 Cooked Fava beans
This is probably the most attractive smell I could hear in the streets during winter. I go crazy for these. The smell doesn’t really come from the beans themselves, but rather from the combination of lemon juice and Persian hogweed powder.
#12 Roasted corn
Who doesn’t love roasted corn!? They are the popular beach side snack and therefore both popular in summer and winter.
#13 Yazdi cakes
Now Yazdi cakes are nothing surprising and not really considered street food anywhere apart from Yazd. But I was in Yazd during the winter about 2 years ago and I can testify that they were among the best things I bought to eat on the street. Fresh out of the oven kind of Yazdi cake is what I’m talking about. 😉
I’ve noticed falafels are becoming quite popular in Iran recently. You wouldn’t have found them so easily before. But if you ever find yourself in Ahvaz, there’s a whole street with falafel shops. We went back 2 nights in a row, so that says something.
#15 Brewed Tea
Last but not least is our beloved Persian brewed tea. Wherever you are in Iran, finding a cup of tea is going to be a piece of cake and there’s nothing better than stopping for a sip of warm tea on a chilly day.