We chat with a mystery food blogger to uncover the best places to try Iranian food in the city.

Some of the best kebabs you’ll find in Dubai are at Iranian restaurants. A few of these restaurants have been around for decades, though sadly this space has seen a lot of churn and many old-timers have closed their doors (even before the pandemic). The good news is that we have many more new restaurant openings and the experts will tell you that these recent entrants serve some of the best Iranian food that Dubai has ever eaten.

If you’re looking to navigate this delicious yet complex landscape of restaurants, tune in to our podcast using the player below with one of Dubai’s most respected and prolific food bloggers, Xerxes the Ravenous.

Xerxes is a force of culinary nature who can lead you to the best Iranian restaurants in the city, blindfolded. On the Deep Fried podcast, he shares that Iranian food is far more than the kebabs it’s often associated with. We’ve shared the list below of all the dishes Xerxes mentioned on the show and the restaurants that do them best. If you want more of his recommendations even beyond Iranian food, do check out his blog here and follow him on Instagram (@ravenousxerxes). This guy knows his stuff!

 

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1. Kebab Khas / Masti

What is it?
The name is translated as Special Kebab and is a southern Iranian delicacy of small pieces of meat or chicken marinated for a day or two in sour hung yogurt and grilled on short skewers. Sometimes also referred to as Kebab Masti or Tikka Masti.

Where to find it?

 

 

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2. Kebab Bahraini

What is it?
Another kebab indigenous to south Iran where the meat pieces are marinated in powdered dried limes and black pepper before grilling.

Where to find it?

 

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3. Kebab Torsh

What is it?

Meat marinated in pomegranate syrup (molasses) before being grilled to give it a sweet and sour flavour.

Where to find it?

4. Gardan

What is it?
Lamb neck that is braised with onions till the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

Where to find it?

 

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5. Kebab Koobideh

What is it?
The most typical Persian kebab – minced meat that is shaped on to flat skewers and indented with fingers before grilling. Quality is key here, both of the meat and the skill over the grill.

Where to find it?

 

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6. Kebab Soltani

What is it?
A combination of 2 skewers, one Koobideh and one of Barg, thinly sliced tenderloin fillet (sometimes soaked in onion juice)

Where to find it?

6. Joojeh Kebab

What is it?
Boneless chicken kebabs often flavoured with saffron. Like Kebab Koobideh its all about the skill of the grill master in keeping the kebab well-caramelized outside and juicy within.

Where to find it?

 

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7. Vegetarian Starters

What is it?
Mezze-like small sharing plates eaten at the start of the meal, even before kebabs.
  • Mirza Qassemi: Roasted, peeled and chopped eggplant that is cooked into a puree with eggs and chopped tomatoes
  • Kashk-e-Bademjan: Roasted eggplant dip like Baba Ghanouj but topped with a funky liquid whey (kashk)
  • Kookoo: Herb and vegetable fritters that are bound with beaten egg before frying.
Where to find it?
Kashk Badenjan on a plate

Kashk Bademjan

 

8. Aash

What is it?
A thick, filling soup that is ubiquitous to Iranian Cuisine and an essential part of Iranian culture; every region has its own variation and every home has its own version.

Where to find it?

 

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9. Koresht

What is it?
Persian Stews
  • Koresht Gheimeh – Split peas stew often topped with fried julienned potatoes, must be served with a stewed dried lime.
  • Ghormeh Sabzi – Mixed herbs stew with red beans and small pieces of lamb; the balance of fenugreek in this stew is vital.
  • Koresht Karafs  – Similar to Ghormeh Sabzi but made with celery.
  • Fesenjoon – A rich winter stew traditionally made with duck cooked in crushed walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
Where to find it?

Koresht Gheimeh at Grand Abshar Restaurant

10. Lubia Polo

What is it?
A saffron-scented rice dish with green beans, tomatoes and herbs.

Where to find it?

11. Baghali Polo

What is it?
A dill-scented rice dish with fava beans, usually served with a lamb shank that is cooked until tender (Mahiche).

Where to find it?
Baghali Polo on a plate

Baghali Polo ba Maahicheh at Iran Zamin

12. Zereshk Polo

What is it?
Rice topped with ruby-red sour barberries that have been fried in ghee, usually accompanied with a portion of fried chicken.

Where to find it?
  • Most Iranian restaurants feature this dish!
Zereshk Polo on a plate

Zereshk Polo

13. Tahdig

What is it?
Literally ‘the bottom of the pot’, it refers to the layer of rice that fries to become deliciously golden and crunchy. Served separately with its own pride of place on the table and often fought over.

Where to find it?

 

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