If you are a vegetarian and planning to visit Iran, the food might be one of your biggest concerns. Finding vegetarian food in Iran can be quite difficult but not impossible.
Many people have the idea that Iranian food is all about meat and Kebabs. It is true that locals love meat and that most restaurants do not serve vegetarian food, but there are plenty of vegetarian dishes in Iranian cuisine. Usually though, they are mostly served at Iranian homes. However in big cities such as Tehran and Isfahan, vegetarian restaurants are starting to open, and even in traditional restaurants, you might be able to find some veggie options. Here are some mouthwatering options:
Street food: Falafel, Pizza or Samosa are easily available everywhere in Iran.
Salads and Pickled Vegetables: you can find them served as a starter in most restaurants and in every local market.
Dairy products: Iranians love their yogurts and cheeses and they are extremely easy to find in any bazaar, shop or supermarket.
Rice: Also called Polo or Dam-Pokht, can be served in many different varieties. The most readily available home options are Adas-Polo (rice with lentils and raisins), Dampokht-e-Baghala (rice with broad beans and dill), Havij-Polo (rice with carrots and walnut) and Dampokht-e-Gojeh (rice with tomato)
Aubergine (Eggplant): Probably the most common vegetarian dish you can find in restaurants contain aubergine or eggplant. They are served with different sauces such as yogurt sauce or tomato sauce along with copious herbs. The most common eggplant dishes include Kashk-e Bademjan (aubergine with whey, herbs and spices) and Mirza ghasemi (aubergine with tomato, garlic and herbs).
Omelette/ Eggs: kuku is a type of egg dish similar to an Italian frittata or Omelette. There are lots of different varieties, some of which are cooked with different vegetables such as spinach, green beans, potatoes and mixed herbs.
Āsh: is a dish similar to a stew or a thick soup. There are many varieties of Āsh and every region has its own traditional Āsh. Some of them are Āsh-e-Gandom (a combination of legumes with wheat and herbs), Āsh-e-Doogh (Yogurt based Ash), Ash-e-Reshteh (legumes, herbs, noodles, and topped with whey/kashk sauce)
Kaleh joosh: is a and simple vegetarian soup originally from the desert regions of Iran. It is enriched with calcium and protein and the main ingredients for this soup are walnut and Kashk (whey).
Baghala ghatogh or baghali ghatogh: is northern Iranian specialty made with fava beans, dill, and eggs. It’s usually served with Persian rice in northern provinces such as Gilan and Mazandaran, and can be considered a stew. It is spiced with turmeric, salt, garlic, and sometimes pepper.
Yatimcheh: is a vegetable dish similar to a ratatouille, is usually made of eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes and served with a bowl of vinaigrette, a mixture of vinegar, chopped white onion, and dried mint. Every city has its own recipe, in Shiraz for example they use zucchini instead of eggplant and some people make it with potatoes or beans and lentils
Dolma or dolmeh: is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes very popular in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. In persian cuisine stuffed grape leaves are the most popular, usually they are stuffed with ground beef and rice but they can also be served without meat, making the dish a very delicious vegetarian alternative. Just make sure to ask the waiter to leave the meat out of the dolmeh! Dolmeh can also be made with other vegetables such as squash, peppers, aubergine and tomatoes and filled with rice, spices and other vegetables or meat.