Iranian cuisine is one of the reasons why you should travel to this country. Typical Iranian dishes contain rice, meat, vegetables and nuts. They are flavored with Saffron, dried lime, spices and herbs such as cinnamon, turmeric, parsley and garlic. In spite of the traditional use of all these spices, herbs and vegetables, to most vegetarian travelers, visiting Iran sounds like a huge nutritional challenge. But don’t let the idea of meat-loving Iranians discourage you from visiting this beautiful country and trying some of the tastiest vegetarian dishes of the region!
Nowadays, vegetarianism and veganism are growing trends in Iran. More and more people, especially the younger generations, take up these diets and settle for a more environmental-friendly lifestyle.
Due to the growing popularity of vegetarianism in Iran, travelers can find a good number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the capital and other big cities. These restaurants serve both local vegetarian dishes and the Western ones such as your usual tofu burger or cheese steak.
In Tehran, there are lots of options to choose from. You can try high-end restaurants in the north of the capital such as Ananda. It has a diverse menu and a lovely little garden in which you can enjoy your meal on a sunny day. You might also want to go to a vegan-only restaurant. Zamin located in the western part of Tehran is one of such restaurants. It brings together a wide variety of dishes along with a very strong vegan and environmental-friendly message.
In case you are wandering around the city center you don’t need to travel far to find a vegetarian restaurants. There is one called the Vegetarian restaurant at the Iranian Artist Forum near Taleqani metro station. It is located in a lovely garden with modern art galleries and a performing arts complex. It is also one of the oldest and most well-known vegetarian restaurants in Iran with a shop that sells all sorts of ingredients for vegan and vegetarian cuisine.
If you want to try the vegetarian side of the local cuisine, you can choose among the following options on the menus of different restaurants and follow the guide below to decide what goes best with your diet:
- Ash-e Reshte
It is a green soup with kidney beans, pea, various herbs and local noodles. It is served with different toppings including fried garlic, onion and mint. You can also try it with a thick dairy product made of dried yogurt called Kashk (whey).
- Mirza Ghasemi
It’s a dish local to the north of Iran with a lot of garlic, grilled eggplants and tomatoes. It is also one of the most popular dishes among all Iranians. It is traditionally served with fried eggs or eggs beaten in it. You might want to remind the cook not to add the eggs due to your diet.
- Kashke Bademjan
It’s another dish local to the north of Iran served with grilled eggplants, garlic and a lot of Kashk (whey) along with walnuts and toppings such as fried mint, onion and garlic. It is often served as a side dish, but also a main course with bread. Bring its name up among Iranians and you will find many absolutely in love with it.
A soup usually served for breakfast and made of lentils and potatoes and sometimes tomatoes. It is extremely light but nutritious and also very easy to cook.
- Baghali Ghatogh
Another tasty delicacy of the north of Iran served in most local restaurants. It is a mixture of fava beans, dill and fried eggs either beaten into the dish or served on its side. You can enjoy it with rice or bread.
Your Vegetarian Variation of Iranian Dishes
Some Iranians cook a vegetarian alternative of the famous dishes, such as Ghormeh Sabzi and Gheymeh which are originally have meat as one of their main ingredients. They substitute the meat with mushrooms. Cooking these dishes are not that difficult either! Make sure to try them on your Iran trip and you will forever fall in love with their taste.
The Last Resort
Your next option would be trying a Falafel sandwich at street food stands or sandwich stands in various cities. They are certainly a cheaper vegetarian option for eating on the go.Now when you travel to Iran, you know how to enjoy your trip alongside your vegetarian diet.