Chinese, Persian and Roman. From these humble beginnings many world foods have sprung. The two main Middle Eastern cuisines, Turkish/Arabic and Indian have also developed from Persian flavors. A rainbow over the table and the smell of heaven in the air: this is how most Iranian tables look like when the time of eating comes. Food is a major part of Persian culture, however, it is far less known over the world than it deserves. Persian cuisine is among the finest in the world. It is both sophisticated and simple. Travelers sometimes think Persian food is hot like the neighboring countries, but it’s not the case. Yet, flavors are incredible thanks to a subtle balance between sweet and sour, and the use of fresh herbs and spices. In the Persian language, the equivalent of “Bon appetit” is “Nooshe Jan”, and it actually says a lot about what Persian cuisine is: It rather means “may it nourish your soul”. Thus, inherited from ancient traditions, the art of cooking in Iran follows the rules of hot and cold natures in ingredients. Not only it ensures good taste but it also keeps an eye on the benefits for the body
In Persian cuisine mythology we see that all the main ingredients can be divided into two types. Ingredients are either cool or warm – warm ingredients are designed to increase your blood pressure, while cool ingredients drop it down – allowing you to restore your inner balance. The experts have said that our bodies need a balance of warm and cool to function at their optimal prime.. The benefits of such associations have been proven and, moreover, have been spread to all dishes of Iranian cuisine. A “cool” salad may be enhanced with “warm” additions, such as carrots or walnuts. Rice is also considered a cool food so is often enhanced with spiced meat dishes, saffron, turmeric, ginger cinnamon and pepper.
Saffron is produced from the dried stigmas of a beautiful little autumn-flowering crocus (Crocus sativus) and it’s literally worth its weight in gold. This exotic spice lends its golden color, pungent flavor, hay-like fragrance, and slight metallic notes to both sweet and savory dishes, as well as drinks. The ancient Persians cultivated saffron in the 10th century BC as a dye, perfume and medicine. They added it to hot teas to treat bouts of melancholy. Cyrus the Great, founder of the first Persian Empire, had it sprinkled in his bath water as a royal body wash. Alexander the Great and his forces learned of this practice and, taken with saffron’s perceived curative properties, brought the custom back with them to Macedonia. Each hand-picked crocus blossom contains three red stigmas which are dried and fermented slightly to produce the spice. Harvesting and processing the stigmas is a fiddly and labourintensive business, not suited to mechanization. It takes 14,000 stigmas to produce one ounce (28 grams) of product, so you can see why saffron is the world’s most expensive spice!
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