The Persian sweets vary regarding the region you’re visiting. During the centuries, Iranians have invented many dessert recipes, developed them and passed them down to the next generations. Some of these recipes even date back to ancient Persia. Some recipes are common everywhere. But, some depend on the available ingredients, such as Persian sweets with rose water, dates, rice flour, and wheat germ. Some sweets and desserts are sugar-free, and some are vegan.
The Exclusive Ingredients
Let’s give you a clue to recognize a pure Persian sweet. Cardamom, saffron, and Kashan rose water: wherever they join together, expect a yummy time! You will find these three buddies in most of the traditional Iranian sweet recipes.
Our crimson gold, the Persian saffron, is one of the main ingredients in Persian desserts and sweets. It is from the eastern regions of Iran.
The next essential ingredient is rose water. You can find it in different regions of Iran. But, Kashan rose water is the prototype. If you happen to visit the city in early May, you’ll have the chance to see the Kashan rosewater festival.
And, cardamom. Though it does not originated from Iran, it plays a vital role in Persian dessert recipes.
Best Persian Foods!
If you like Iranian sweets, you should not miss out on its cuisine!
Desserts or Sweets? That’s the Question
The Persian sweets have always had an independent place from Iranian meals. They weren’t only a concluding part of lunch or dinner. It wasn’t among Iranian etiquette to taste desserts right after their main course. Rather, there has been a separate ceremony after the main course: drinking the Iranian brewed tea together with the Persian pastries.
Only recently, having desserts at the end of food has found its way into Persian dishes. Mostly, they are western forms of pastries like fruit-flavored jellies, various kinds of cakes, tiramisu, etc. Yet, that traditional tea and Persian sweets ceremony still has saved its top place.
Tea and its Friends
From the simple sugar cubes to the enriched local Persian sweets, they never let the aromatic Iranian tea be alone. As soon as you get to know the Iranian hospitality culture, you can make sure that after having tried the best Iranian dishes, you are going to the next level – the tea party.
The Origins of the Persian Sweets & Desserts
Actually, you can find various kinds, forms, and tastes of cakes and cookies in every region and city of Iran. Yet, some Persian sweets and their related cities have become more well-known and popular. Here in IranAmaze Iran travel agency, we are going to introduce them.
It is a flat soft cake made from wheat flour, eggs, milk, and nut powders. Various kinds of baked or fried flat cakes, pancakes, or cookies are available in different cities. But the most famous kinds of Koolooches are for the northern region.
The great and noble city of Tabriz in the northwest of Iran offers you this specific sweet. It’s a chewy sweet made with sugar or honey, roasted nuts, and whipped egg whites. Nougat became more famous when Google named its android seven after it.
3. Nan-e Berenji
The famous pastry in the western regions (Kordestan and Kermanshah) is Nan-e Berenji. Small cookies made with egg yolk, saffron, cardamom, rose water, sugar, and rice flour. These cookies are gluten-free.
The funny point here is that wheat is one of the western regions’ products, but their prominent sweet souvenir is out of rice flour. But it’s vice versa in the northern parts; they plant rice, but their Koolooches are out of wheat flour.
4. Aard Nokhodchi Cookies
These Persian sweets are small cookies with chickpea flour as their main ingredient. So, they are among gluten-free cookies. We mix this flour with butter, brewed saffron, sugar, and cardamom, and then bake it. They are buttery soft, and melt-in-your-mouth.
Going towards the central parts of Iran, the ingredients get more enriched with exclusive Persian ingredients, saffron, and rose water. Here you must try Sohan, the special dessert and souvenir of Qom. It is out of wheat germ, egg, rose water, sugar, butter, and cardamom.
One of the most famous souvenirs of Iran and amongst the traditional Persian sweets. It is a chewy sweet made from sugar, egg white, rose water, stuffed with pistachio, almond, and walnut. Gaz is Isfahan‘s renown sweet. But it’s also made in other central and western cities like Share-Kord and Kerman.
A delicious dessert sweet in the Middle East, Central Asian countries, and Greece. It has a long history with hundreds of developed recipes from ancient times.
Baklava has changed its characteristics in Persian sweet recipes to a native version. Iranian Baklava is drier and lighter than Turkish or Arabic ones. It’s smaller, in diamond-shaped cuts, flavored with a rosewater syrup, and stuffed with grounded almonds, pistachios, and cardamom. Yazd and Qazvin are the two main centers of Persian baklava.
Small pieces of almond and walnuts filled crescents that are deep-fried and sweetened by rolling in sugar powder. They are specific sweets of Yazd.
A traditional dessert which is served cold and is suitable for summer. It consists of thin vermicelli-sized noodles made from starch. Faloodeh is floated in a semi-frozen syrup containing sugar and rose water. Some prefer to have it with lime juice or cherry sorbet. This unique Persian dessert originates from Shiraz. Thus, some call it Faloodeh Shirazi.
10. Saffron Ice Cream
A freshening dessert made from milk, eggs, sugar, rose water, saffron, and pistachios crumbs. It is an ancient Iranian dessert. This creamy ice cream was first invented during the Achaemenid dynasty (500 BC). It is also called traditional ice cream. A good Saffron ice cream has an extreme flavor of saffron as well as flakes of frozen cream.
You can try Faloodeh and Saffron ice cream together, but remember to omit the lime juice.
A stuffed small, flat, and round cake from Kerman. It is filled with smashed dates, cardamom powders, and other local flavors. Crushed pistachios are used for decoration.
This no-bake Persian dessert is an excellent end to a Middle Eastern meal. It is a reasonably nutritious and energizing dessert made from dates, walnuts, butter, and roasted flour. It is also called date cakes. There are different recipes for Ranginak based on the mentioned ingredients in the southern regions of Iran. This region’s main product is various kinds of dates.
Sweets for Special Occasions
Like every other culture in the world, we have special desserts or sweets for special occasions like New Year, festivals, mourning ceremonies, and memorials. These occasions are included in Iran tour packages where you may have the opportunity to experience the process of making Persian sweets and desserts like Samanu and Shole Zard.
The ancient festival of Nowruz is also a festival of baking colorful Persian sweets for entertaining the guests. These sweets and pastries vary in different regions of Iran. But, Persian sweets Baklava, Qottab, Nan-e Berenji, and Aard Nokodchi are common ones you’ll see in most Iranian houses.
Besides, there is a special and ancient Iranian dessert that is specific to the new year ceremony: Samanu. This Iranian sugar-free dessert dates back to about 500 AD. Traditional Samanu only has two ingredients: wheat germ and water. Thus, it is also a vegan Persian dessert. It has a special process of preparation that takes about a week. Samanu is one of the elements of the Nowruz Haft-sin table.
Every year we celebrate Yalda night, the last night of the fall. Based on an ancient custom, Iranians gather together on this longest night of the year to avoid loneliness and darkness. They tell stories, recite poems, and eat nuts and a sweet dessert, Baslogh. It’s a small half-round sweet made of starch, sugar, cardamom, and designed with walnut.
When you have been fasting a whole day and want to break it at sunset – as Muslims do during the holy month of Ramadan – you need energizing things to eat. In Iran, besides the special meals we serve for this purpose, there are sweets and desserts as well that can be good starters after hours of hunger.
The main Persian sweet that decorates our dish is Zoolbia (Jalebi) and Bamieh. A crispy, juicy sweet made of flour and sugar syrup.
Also, some kinds of puddings are common these days.
Shir Berenj (rice pudding) is a pudding in which white rice is cooked in milk, rose water, honey, or sugar.
The next favorite pudding is Shole Zard (saffron pudding), cooked rice with saffron, cardamom, and rose water. It is also a special dessert for mourning ceremonies like the Muharram festival.
And, Halva is the last one on our list. Roasted flour mixed with a sweet syrup of rose water, cardamom, and saffron is its most common recipe. There are hundreds of recipes for Halva in Iran and other countries in the Middle East.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
We have traveled through all the directions in Iran to bring you the famous Persian sweets and desserts, their preparation, and history. But, these were just a small list of Persian sweets. There are still many more left that you can discover through Iran cultural tours and by navigating deep into the cities and villages.