10 Best Persian Appetizers And Starters You Have To Try

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Iran is an ancient country with a diverse population and rich culture. This historical land is known for its architecture, metalwork, weaving, pottery, and calligraphy. Delicious Iranian kebabs, desserts, and Persian appetizers are one of the many draws of this amazing country.

What Is Special About Persian Appetizers?

Appetizers are not common in typical Iranian food because the main dishes are often very large. In fact, many locals like to eat traditional Persian appetizers as their main meal.

You can find some restaurants serving different types of salads, yogurts, pickles, and marinated vegetables as side dishes. Combining these salty, sour, or sweet Iranian starters with the main course creates a unique blend of flavors. 

Most Famous Persian Appetizer

Shirazi Salad (Persian Vegetable Salad)

Shirazi salad is a famous Persian appetizer salad. It is often called a national dish of Iran. Originally, it comes from the region of Shiraz, but is enjoyed throughout the country.

The key ingredients of Shirazi salad are chopped onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs with some local spices. The addition of different vegetables and spices makes it one of the healthiest Persian starters. The fresh and crunchy vegetables offer a unique combination when paired with Iranian main dishes.  

Many restaurants serve Shirazi salad as an accompaniment to rice dishes or gheimeh. Sometimes, people also use it to balance the spiciness of Iranian stews.

Persian Bread


It is one of many well-known Iranian facts that the people love their bread. You will see locals enjoying it with cream and honey during breakfast and with different stews during lunch and dinner. In addition to having it with the main course, people also enjoy it with butter and cheese as an appetizer. 

Traditional Iranian bread is made with wheat flour. It is a healthy and nutritious Persian food consumed throughout the country.

There are hundreds of different options when it comes to traditional Iranian bread. Persian naan, Barbari, Sangak, Taftoon, and Lavash are some of the most common. They make for great snacks in Iran.

Persian Appetizers – Marinated And Pickled Vegetables 

Zeytoon Parvardeh (Marinated Olives)


This is one of the classic Iranian starters with many local and tourist fans. Zeytoon parvardeh originated in the northern Iran cities Rasht and Rudbar. It is ranked among the top 50 traditional vegetable dishes throughout the world.

As the name suggests, zeytoon parvardeh includes marinated olives. The marination includes a mixture of pomegranate sauce, dried pomegranate, peppermint powder, lemon juice, and olive oil. The exotic taste of pomegranate gives the salad a strong tangy flavor. 

Torshi Shoor (Pickled Vegetables)


Torshi shoor is another traditional Persian appetizer. It is very famous in Iran and is often called the queen of vegetable pickles.

Basically, the dish contains various pickled vegetables such as marinated carrots, cabbages, and cucumbers. The veggies are pickled for weeks in herbs and spices.

Torshi shoor is usually served with kebabs. The sourness of vegetables tastes heavenly with appetizing meat kebabs. You can find spicy and sour versions of torshi shoor in different restaurants all over the country. 

Dolmeh (Stuffed Grape Leaves)


Dolmeh is a very popular and unique Iranian appetizer. It comes from the East and West provinces of Azerbaijan. The dish has different recipes and ingredients depending on the region. 

This Persian appetizer features fresh grape leaves stuffed with a delicious mixture of pre-cooked meat and rice. The stuffed leaves are then cooked in a sweet and sour sauce, made with sugar and lemon juice. 

Dolmeh is a signature Iranian starter of the spring season because the best grape leaves are only available then. However, some Iranians serve Dolmeh on national holidays like Yalda night and Nowruz as well. 

Kuku Sabzi (Herb Baked Omelet)

Kuku Sabzi is a delicious and aromatic Persian breakfast and starter. It is an everyday treat for the locals and a staple side dish for the Iranian new year, Nowruz. 

Kuku sabzi is just like an omelet or frittata. It includes lightly beaten eggs mixed with chopped herbs and lots of spices. The herbs and eggs in this Persian appetizer symbolize rebirth and fertility.  

The unique taste of this side dish comes from fried parsley, cilantro, dill, and chives. Some recipes also contain walnuts and barberries. You can enjoy this fragrant treat with traditional Iranian flatbread. 

Persian Appetizers – Dips 



Yogurt is a common side dish in many Asian countries and a popular Persian appetizer. The nutritious properties of yogurt make it a calcium-rich and healthy starter to enjoy with your meal. Iranian cuisine also features a variety of yogurt-based starters, the most common being spinach, cucumber, and spices added to plain yogurt.

Among all the yogurt appetizers, Mast O Khiar is the most famous. It is made with grafted cucumber, salt, and fragrant herbs. This refreshing Iranian starter is served with various main dishes, especially fish.

Kashk Bademjan (Kashk And Eggplant Dip) 


Kashk Bademjan is a unique traditional eggplant side dish from Iran. It is made with boiled fat-free yogurt and combines the incredible flavors of grilled eggplant, kashk, onion, and spices.

Before serving, it is garnished with ground nuts. The Persian appetizer has a sourness and smokiness from the grilled eggplants. The creamy texture of kashk bademjan tastes heavenly with warm lavash bread.

Its flavor and aroma make it one of the most delicious vegetarian Iranian starters. Kashk Bademjan is mostly served with Ash, a classic Persian noodle soup, but it can be served with a variety of meals.

Khoresht Mast (Beef Yogurt) 

Khoresht mast, commonly known as yogurt stew, is usually served as a pre-course or dessert in Iran. In the past, this thick treat was served as a main dish for celebrations. Today, it is one of the most popular starters and side dishes.

It features a combination of sugar, fragrant rose water, yogurt, brewed saffron, egg yolk, lamb neck meat, and spices. All the ingredients are mixed and boiled to make a paste-like texture. Walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are added after cooking. 

This Iranian appetizer has a slightly sweet and sour taste with a bright yellow color. It is served cold with the barberry topping. 

Mirza Ghassemi (Persian Eggplant Dip)


Mirza ghassemi, also known as mirza qassemi, is a traditional Iranian dip. This Persian appetizer originated from the northern province of Gilan. In Western countries, it is commonly known as a Persian eggplant dip. 

The dip begins with eggplant, eggs, garlic, and tomatoes. The eggplant is charred to give a smoky flavor. All the ingredients are chopped, grilled, and then mixed with eggs to give the appearance of a delicious casserole.

This starter is mostly served with local bread or rice. In many parts of the country, mirza ghassemi is also enjoyed as a side vegetable dish. 

Discovering Persian Appetizers And Starters In Iran

Persian appetizers and starters offer a diversity of flavors and textures to visitors. They mainly consist of vegetables and yogurts to make a protein and nutrient-balanced diet. 

Pickled vegetables also change the game of Iranian cuisine. The tangy and spicy veggies pair perfectly with rice, stews, and kebabs. The crunchy vegetable starters and creamy yogurt sides bring a different taste to every meal. 



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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