A classic Persian meal usually consists of several hot and cold dishes. Many of these dishes are served as starters in restaurants, but they can also accompany the main meal. Here are a few favourites...
Salad shirazi: A light and delicious salad that is eaten as a side dish with many rice and stew dishes. As the name implies, it is believed this salad originated from Shiraz, a city in the south-west of Iran. It is made with just three main ingredients: cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, plus an acidic dressing.
Mirza ghasemi: Originating from northern Iran, this vegetarian appetiser (or main course) bursts with garlic, smoked aubergines, tomatoes, and eggs. It is eaten with either some fresh naan or taftoon bread if a starter, or with rice as a main course.
Kashke bademjan: This thick aubergine-based dip is a favourite; just dunk in it with some bread. Kashke is a type of whey made by draining yoghurt, while bademjan means aubergine in Farsi. The whey is salty and tangy, perfectly complimenting the richness of the aubergine.
Mast: Yoghurt is another common side-dish or appetiser. The two main variations of this are mast-o-khiar (yoghurt and cucumber) and mast-o-musir (yoghurt and Persian shallots).