Ask An Iranian - What does Tehran taste like - many Iranian tomato ketchup sachets, including Bijan, Delveseh, Kalleh and Mahram

Catering to 8.5m Tehran residents who have an ever-increasing exposure to, and an ever-increasing expectation for international dishes is tough. Although tough, it’s also been one of the reasons behind the capital’s recent restaurant industry boom. Yes, part of this boom has been accompanied by Iroonianising the hell out of well known international dishes, but you gotta do what you gotta do. To help us get a taste of what Tehran has to offer, as far as Iroonianised international dishes, we invited the Tehran Taster on to the show. Fareed set up the Tehran Taster Instagram page, four years ago, as a means to expose and educate Tehranistas concerning international cuisines. To do this, Fareed calls upon his twenty-plus year’s experience gained through his involvement with 103 restaurants around the Middle East. Using this experience, he now brings daily content to a mostly Iranian audience of around 110k. After our discussion about food and social media influencing, we had Fareed join us for a slightly different taste-testing experience. So, to know what the results of that were, and to answer the question, “what does Tehran tastes like?”, be sure to listen here.

Questions we get answers to during this episode

  • Why do Tehran restaurants always add a cherry tomato on top of dishes?
  • Is there a China Town in Tehran, Iran? [not yet!]
  • Which popular restaurants should I visit in the Tehran Grand Bazaar?
  • How has Iran’s restaurant industry changed in the last few years?
  • Which regions are known for what flavours in Iran?
  • What social media platforms do Iranian influencers mostly use?
  • How do I become a successful social media influencer?
  • What is the Iranian drink, doogh made of?
  • Who does it better, Tehran Taster, or Mr Taster?

Tehran restaurants mentioned in this episode

During this episode, we mention many different types of Tehran restaurants. To help you locate them, or even read reviews about them, we’ve added a list of them below. We don’t necessarily recommend these restaurants, but in most cases, they get a thumbs-up from us.

Which is the best Iranian doogh drink

We wanted to help our audience out by having the Tehran Taster join us for a taste-testing experience, of another kind. During this episode we had Fareed join us to test the peculiar Iranian drink, known as doogh. We approached this exercise in the same way that we feel our audience would, in that we give our thoughts as new-comers to this strange Iranian yoghurt drink experience. Listed below are our thoughts on the types of simple, non-gassy, dooghs that we were able to find in a large Iranian supermarket. Although there are many more types of doogh available in Iran, these were some of the more popular ones available. Before reading our ratings of the various dooghs, please note that we were very serious about not taking this task seriously.

No, this isn’t about tourist stuff — this is about what you’re kinda forced to do. Listen to us answer “what MUST you do in Iran?”
  1. Seven Doogh, by Kalleh — our most preferred
    — Fareed: “average, 7/10”, David: “spangly handbag”
  2. Livar Doogh, by Arzesh Afarinaan Saraamad — one of our least preferred
    — Fareed: “like medicine, 4/10”, David: “formaldehyde”
  3. Pegah Doogh, by Pegah — came highly recommended
    — Fareed: “didn’t like, 5/10”, David: “persimmon”
  4. Doogh, by Koohpayeh — gassy, but probably shouldn’t be
    — Fareed: “very salty, it’s a no, 3/10”, David: “Vauxhall Corsa”
  5. Doogh Sonati Ziaarat, by Pegah — our least preferred Iranian doogh
    — Fareed: “smells like it’s just come out of someone’s… 2/10”, David: “asphalt”
  6. Doogh, by Abeali — old-school, glass-bottled, and liked by us
    — Fareed: “8/10”, David: “Tesla”
  7. Kafir, by Pegah — not doogh, and not really liked
    — Fareed: “smells like a baby’s vomit”
  8. Golpayegaan, by Pegah — more gassy than flavour
    — Fareed: “not for me”
Dough-e Ab-Ali

What’s the difference between doogh and ayran?

Oh, we nearly forgot! If you want to know what the difference between the Turkish drink ayran and the Iranian drink doogh is, then allow us to explain. Doogh is mostly made of yoghurt, water and salt. Ayran is mostly made of water, yoghurt and salt.

Where you can follow Fareed, the Tehran Taster

Ask An Iranian Tehran Taster, Fareed Hashemi — Instagram food influencer
Ask An Iranian Tehran Taster, Fareed Hashemi — Instagram food influencer

Our guest for this episode is a prolific content provide, posting videos and regular stories on Instagram. If you’re interested in this type of content, you can follow Fareed, the Tehran Taster, on Instagram, here. Fareed has also recently set up Tasting Kitchen, which is his Iran-based catering company, that provides authentic international cuisine for local Iranians.

Translations of Persian (Farsi) words used during this episode

PersianEnglish translation
Salam alyakoom:“Peace be upon you” – a greeting used by Muslims, especially Arabs and Iranians
Alaykoom e salam:“and peace be upon you” – a response to the greeting used by Muslims, especially Arabs and Iranians
Shekamoo:A term based on the word “stomach” to imply “greedy guts”
Foozool:“To pry”, or “to be nosy”
Tah dig:“Bottom of the pot” – the term for the crust created when food is cooked in a pot
Koobideh:“Beat” – also the term for minced-mutton skewered kebabs
Doogh:An Iranian yogurt drink – sometimes fizzy, sometimes with herbs
Maamaan, rikht:“I spilt it, Mummy”
Inshallah:“God willing” – sometimes understood as, “never gonna happen”
Lavashak:A type of sour jelly-styled sweet, popular with Iranian kids
Door door:“Round and round” – the term used for cruising
Mahali:“Local” – the term used to describe locally-made goods

Image credits: collection of 6-months worth of tomato sauce, created by Ask An Iranian