Best kept secret ingredients of Persian cuisine

Sumac, barberries, dried limes, dried herb mixes… you may not have heard of these if you aren’t familiar with Persian cuisine, but you need to have these in your life. That’s why we’ve put together a run-down of some of our favourite ingredients that we stock. The best thing is how affordable and convenient these ingredients are. They are all dried, store-cupboard essentials that require little preparation. We’ve even put together easy, simple recipes to show you how these are used in the most famous Persian dishes.

Dried herb mixes

One of the reasons Persian food is bursting with flavour is its use of herbs. They are used in bulk – in large quantities, like vegetables in other cuisines, creating a healthy, nutritious taste explosion. The herbs most commonly used in Persian cooking are dill, mint, parsley, coriander, basil, chives, fenugreek, and tarragon, while marjoram and oregano make occasional appearances. The best thing about this? You can use packs of affordable, pre-mixed, dried herbs. This is extremely convenient, meaning you simply have to soak the herbs in cold water for 10 minutes or add them straight to your dish, if it’s a soup or stew. We have herb mixes for a range of classic dishes, together with simple recipes to get you started:


Saffron is also known as red gold, due to being so valuable. It is made from the threads of the saffron crocus, which produces only three threads per flower. These add an aromatic, savoury flavour to dishes. Take a look at our recipe for classic Persian rice to find out how to use saffron to add a burst of colour and luxury to your rice, or take look at our range of saffron here.


We love sumac, and it really is a best-kept secret. This is a little-known spice that you can keep on the table as a condiment, like salt and pepper. It has a tart, lemony flavour, and goes with a wide range of dishes, from soups, to salads, to stews and more. You may just start putting it on everything. It requires no preparation and is easy to store for long periods. What are you waiting for, try some – you can buy it here.

Yoghurt seasoning

Our yoghurt seasoning is our secret cheat mix to creating affordable, easy, healthy, flavourful and refreshing Persian cucumber and yoghurt salads. Want to impress your friends with an absolute minimum of effort? See our easy recipe for Persian cucumber salad (masto-o-khiar), or buy some yoghurt seasoning.

Dried limes

Dried limes are another well-kept secret. They can be used to add a sour flavour to dishes such as soups and stews, by adding them whole and piercing them before they are put in. After stewing, they become soft and bursting with flavour. In fact, they are an integral part of what is thought of as Iran’s national dish, a herb stew called ghormeh sabzi. Buy some here, or take a look at our easy recipe for ghormeh sabzi.


Dried barberries are yet another best kept secret. They add a tangy kick and touch of colour to a wide range of dishes, with a flavour similar to that of unsweetened dried cranberries. Being dried, they are an affordable, convenient store cupboard essential that you can always have to hand. You can either fry them to bring them alive, or soak them in cold water for 10 minutes. They are great tossed into or used as a topping for salads, rice, frittatas – the list goes on. Buy some here, or see the following recipes using them:

Rice spice (Advieh Polo)

Advieh is a blend of five warm spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, and dried rose petals. This spice blend adds a unique depth of flavour to the steamed white rice to create aromatic spice rice. Buy it here or see our recipe for aromatic herb rice.

Chicken or meat spice

If you’re a meat eater, you will appreciate that meat is a major part of Persian cuisine, often served with rice. Our chicken or meat spices are a convenient way of marinating meats before grilling. Buy our chicken spice here, or meat spice here.

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