Kebabs, black limes, rosewater, a tangle of herbs, and rice, rice, rice: The hallmarks of Persian cooking are popping up on menus across the country. Behold three classic Iranian dishes that are currently getting the chef treatment.
Chef Sam Smith grew up loving his Persian neighbors’ salads—so much so, they inspired a dish at Tusk in Portland, Oregon. Tossed with romaine, edible flowers and nasturtium yogurt, it’s a chefy cross between the greens platter sabzi khordan and cucumber-tomato-and-onion-filled shirazi salad.
From saffron-and-butter chelo (steamed basmati) to crispy tahdig (pan-fried rice), there’s always rice at the Persian table. At Atlanta’s Rumi’s Kitchen—which opens an Avalon, Georgia, outpost in April—Ali Mesghali serves six kinds: His shirin polo is fragrant with orange peel, saffron, barberries and pistachios.
At Tawla in San Francisco, Joseph Madigow has a following for his duck fesenjan, a rich, sweet-tart stew made with poultry simmered with pomegranate juice, molasses and ground walnuts.
Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid ($35)
For an introduction to Persian cuisine, pick up Naomi Duguid’s new cookbook. Through rich storytelling and recipes from her travels, Duguid explores the culinary heritage that unites Iran, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. Try her recipe for Persian Split Pea Soup.