Rice is the staple food and the Iranians cook it superbly. It is often eaten with wheat bread, yoghurt, lamb and aubergines. Typical Persian flavours are subtle, with cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, cardamom and saffron all delicately blended. Garlic and lime also feature. Many Iranians make their own yoghurt, which can be used as an ingredient in many dishes or as a cool and refreshing drink. Visitors will find that kebabs, served either in oven-fresh bread or with rice, tend to dominate most menus. Vegetarianism is uncommon, although visitors will often find meat-free options.
• Chelo khoresh (rice topped with vegetables and meat in a nut sauce).
• Polo chele (pilau rice), polo sabzi (pilau rice cooked with fresh herbs), polo chirin (sweet-sour saffron-coloured rice with raisins, almonds and orange), adas polo (rice, lentils and meat) and morgh polo(chicken and pilau rice).
• Chelo kababs (rice with skewered meats cooked over charcoal).
• Kofte (minced meat formed into meatballs) and kofte gusht (meatloaf).
• Abgusht (thick stew).
Most Iranian meals are eaten with a spoon and fork, but visitors may choose a Western dish and eat with a knife and fork. The consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden.
In large hotels, a 10 to 15% service charge is added to the bill. In restaurants (chelokababis) it is usual to leave some small change. Tipping is not expected in tea-houses or small hotels.