The pomegranate tree is native to Iran and is now widely cultivated around the globe. It is used in Iranian cooking to add a distinct sour taste, that may be from the red pomegranate seeds itself or from the juice that is made by reducing the pulp to a thick, dark syrup.
Renowned as the most expensive of all spices, saffron is actually the red-orange stigmas of the crocus flower. The laborious process of harvesting saffron requires the stigmas to be hand picked, dried and packaged in airtight containers. Around 70,000 flowers must be picked in order to result in one pound of saffron. The spicy, bitter taste is highly valued in culinary circles, as is the beautiful orange colour it imparts on cooked dishes, particularly rice. It is used in Persian cooking to flavour the rice dishes, as well as with meat and poultry presentations and in some desserts.
Commonly used as an ingredient in many Iranian meals, pistachio nuts are also common as a decoration sprinkled on top of their meals. They may be used whole, ground or crushed.
A fragrant extraction made from steeping rose petals in oil, water or alcohol. Its delicate flavour and aroma is used extensively to flavour Iranian dishes and desserts.
Panir is actually the Persian word for cheese, however, it often refers specifically to a feta-like white cheese.
An alternative to rice, burghul is essentially cracked wheat (where the outer layers of bran are removed and the grains are cracked.) It has a distinctive nutty taste and is either steamed or boiled.
A herb that is related to both parsley and fennel. Dill is used in the preparation of chelo koresh, a rice dish that is cooked slowly for hours to create a crusty bottom. It is served in most Iranian households every day. It may also be paired with broad beans in a pilaf or used in making kofta.