Persian cooking of Iranians
The major categories of Persian cuisine are cooked rice dishes; khoreshes' ashes; halims (pastes of vegetables, meat or both usually eaten with flat bread); abgushts (meat soups); dolmes (stuffed vegetables); suftes (meatballs); kababs (small pieces of meat roasted on skewers); shamis and kotlets (fried meat and vegetable patties); khaginas, kukus, nargesis, and sheshandazes (fluffy egg dishes similar to omelets or soufflés); buranis; torshis (pickles and relishes); confections and cookies; and breads.
Rice, usually the long-grained variety, is generally parboiled in heavily salted water, drained, then steamed with additional ghee or butter. Slow cooking is particularly characteristic of Persian cuisine: khoreshes and ashes are simmered over low heat, polows and chelows steamed. For khoreshes the ingredients are first browned, then simmered in liquid. Most shamis, kotlets, and kukus are fried slowly in ghee or vegetable oil. For kababs pieces of poultry or red meat, ground or cut up in chunks, are marinated for several hours in lemon juice or yogurt and seasonings, then roasted over a flame. Before the widespread introduction of home ovens into the Persian kitchen in the 1960s baking was a rather involved process, in which special copper pans were covered tightly and buried in slow- burning crushed charcoal; Safavid chefs, for instance, used this method. Because of its complexity baking was not as common in the preparation of Persian foods in the past as it is today. Recently, however, there has been a tendency to bake some dishes, like kukus, that were traditionally fried, browned, or steamed on the stove or over an open fire. Seasoning is uaually moderate; salt, black pepper, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, and marjoram are the most common spices and flavorings. In contrast to the practice in some parts of India, fiery seasonings are rarely used in Persian cuisine and then only sparingly. The subtle flavor and aroma of herbs like dill, mint, coriander, parsley, and fenugreek are preferred. A good cook is distinguished by the ways in which he or she blends them.
Persentation of foods is also important, and well-prepared Persian dishes are as attractive to the eye as to the palate. Ashes, Halims, and other dishes are topped with golden- brown onions, nuts, saffron-colored ingredients, and yogurt or cheese in intricate patterns. Polows and chelows are usually served on large platters and decorated with a handful of saffron rice and perhaps other ingredients.