Some Exotic, Eccentric & Delicious Iranian Drinks

chia khakshir tokhm sharbat persian beverage tehran Iran mugworth grain of teff

tokhmeh sharbat + khak ‘e shir = my first official drink in Tehran, Iran

In this latest installment of  “Drinking in Iran” — a photo-essay series documenting the tasty drinks (aka nooshidani) yours truly had to sip, gulp, swig, imbibe, taste, devour, knock back, or merely gaze at covetously during my sentimental, epic trip to Iran — I thought I’d show you some of the more eccentric libations and beverages.

Eccentric by the way does not mean weird or bad, just different. I mean: take a look at our featured cover drink. What was this concoction pray tell? I can tell you that making my very first solo foray in Tehran, I ended up walking up from Park ‘e Sayee all the way uptown and by the time I got to Vanak Square, I stopped dead in my tracks at the mesmerizing sight of this refreshment kiosk (pic below) with its whirling liquids and twirling floating orange and black seeds, and I had to have some.

chia khakeshir sharbat Persian drinks tokhmeh sharbatg

tokhmeh sharbat (chia seeds) & khak ‘e shir (literally dust of milk)

The right-hand sign with the orange seeds reads: Premium Khak ‘e shir  with rosewater. It is challenging to translate Khak e shir  (which literally means “dust of milk” and is harvested from an annual herb that grows along the hills and mountains.) I’ve seen it translated as “grains of teff” to mugworth seeds to the intimidating sounding sisymbrium irio whatever that may be!.

The left sign reads: Premium tokhmeh sharbat with rosewater. Thankfully, tokhme shrabat (literally: “seeds of sharbat”) is very easy to translate into English because the little black seeds have become super popular in the West and they are none other than, wait for it: chia! Ta da! (ps I love chia seeds!)

Both Khak ‘e shir & chia seeds have long been used by Iranians to make tasty, thirst quenching sharbats that are popular and boast of medicinal benefits as well, but are ones that I personally did not grow up drinking very often or at all. But on my adventure-seeking and extremely sentimental first urban hike through Tehran, the city of my birth and childhood, I had to try the sharbat concoction made with a combo of both (it is equally customary to drink each individually or to mixed together.)  Review: I greatly enjoyed nursing my vivacious drink (with its dancing seeds) while continuing on my path up north and got to amuse passersby as well by propping it hither and dither for close-up photo ops. Constructive crit: would have preferred it way less sweet & with less rosewater.

Tamarind juice cafe tehran Iran tambreh hendi vegetarian cafe

Tamarind juice (ab ‘e tambre hendi) | Tehran, Iran

Continuing with the tale of somewhat unusual drinks, this was a tamarind juice (sharbat tambreh hendi) that I got to partake at the popular vegetarian cafe of the truly lovely Khaneh ‘ye Honarmandan, aka House of The Artists, which is an art compound in a park in Tehran. Verdict? I had never had a tamarind sharbat before and was excited to try it and had big expectations, but honestly, except for the thrill of novelty and a hint of a pleasant tang, this drink didn’t really do much for me. At least, not this particular iteration. Even so, it was fun to experience.

ab zeresh ab albaloo pomegranate anar juice persian beverages

Pomegranates, exotic juice and the honeysuckle! | Tehran, Iran

One of the most popular types of things to drink in Iran were none other than the good old ab ‘e miveh aka fruit juice.

At first glance there’s nothing unusual or eccentric about fruit juice but appearances can be deceiving.

In the first installment of this series, I waxed poetic about freshly squeezed pure pomegranate juice — the very elixir of life and joy! But of course, many other types of freshly squeezed or bottled fruit juices were abundant as well — everything from cantaloupe juice to juice of pear or apple or orange. Simple, humble, but never pedestrian. For example, what was cool at sundry fruit juice stands across the country was that even when it came to just getting an average ordinary fruit juice, like lets say apple juice. you’d still have the option of deciding between the juice of green apples, yellow apples or tart apples. A multiple choice pop quiz with only correct answers!

Plus there were some distinctly exotic options! Think: berberry juice (ab zereshk) or sour cherry juice (ab ‘e albaloo) or sweet lemon juice (ab limoo shirin.)

And let’s not forget the simple yet profound pleasure of fresh watermelon juice! Like these. Just heaven … almost as good and popular as fresh pomegranate juice!

havij bastani carrot ice cream persian drink sweet Iran

ob ‘e havij va bastani | carrot juice + ice cream (Persian treat)

But hands down the quirkiest drink I had in Iran (which I first detected while exploring the vast-hustling-bustling-stimulation-overload that was the Grand Bazaar of Tehran) was this totally unexpected kooky combo of fresh and frothy carrot juice with a big dollop of Persian ice cream.

Say what! The first glimpse of this drink actually made me gasp with surprise.

I could not conceive how this mixture could possibly be a good idea.

ob havij bastani carrot juice ice cream Tehran

Lovely Iranian lady at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar humoring me & posing for a pic!

Before trying one for myself I asked this nice lady who had purchased one if it was any good. She informed me that: “Albateh! Khaily khobeh!” which roughly translates to: “Duh!” The nice lady then kindly and indulgently allowed me to snapshot her as she demonstrated enjoying her sweet treat. (She probably thought I was a harmless divooneh!)

Encouraged, I purchased and tried one of my own. And guess what? The wacky combo works! Freshly squeezed carrot juice with ice cream makes for an unexpected beverage that is delicious and indulgent, but what I liked most about it is that it’s a drink with a sense of humor, if that makes sense!

No wonder ob ‘e havij va bastani is popular in Iran. I want some now!

And with that, it’s a wrap for this installment. There are a few more posts left in the Drinking in Iran series that I’m looking forward to posting soon. Meanwhile, if you missed the earlier installments of the series, here are Drinking Fresh Pomegranate Juice in Iran; and Drinking Tea in Iran.)

Beep beep, that’s all for now folks. Please come back!

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25 thoughts on “Some Exotic, Eccentric & Delicious Iranian Drinks

  1. Love it. Love it all. Today’s post brought me summery feelings in this gloomy California weather. The carrot juice & ice cream sounds really delicious.
    Missed u & ur blog so much.

    • It is gloomy and rainy here in New York too! And your comment brightened up my day! hope you’ll get to taste ab ‘e havij va bastani very soon! xoxo 🙂

  2. During my trip to Iran I saw this beverage in the first picture several times but I didn’t know what it was. Finally I know! Thank you! I like the name “dust of milk”.
    I think my favourite drink was melon and ice cream, I loved it!

    • Ooh, I missed the melon and ice cream beverage, but have to grab that next visit to Iran! Thanks for letting me know Miriam jaan! 🙂

    • Jasline: exactly! Weird and wickedly good at the same time. Not sure if the combo would work with vanilla ice cream here but it really did go nicely with the Per
      sian ice cream

      • I’ve tried it with the Three Twins label cardamom ice cream and it really hits the spot-reminds me of the same treat that I would have in Tehran 🙂 I like to top it off with crushed pistachios when I’m at home but I don’t think that is a standard serving tip!

      • Dear Mahdis, thank you for the tip! I just looked up the company. I think topping if off with crushed pistachios is genius and should be a standard serving tip! 🙂

  3. That first drink is now even MORE intriguing: I looked up sisymbrium irio in my favorite unreliable resource and one look a the picture told me that it has a gentle bite to it – it’s a proud member of the Brassicaceae family, whose cousin Kale has the most delicious seeds (I’ve been eating the seeds of volunteer kale in my garden all spring. While weeding the dudez who were in the paths between the beds.)

    I am totally putting this one on my list of things-to-do-when-I-get-to-visit-Iran-someday.

    • Oh, very interesting re eating seeds of kale! Hmmm, I’d like to get to try that sometime. Meanwhile: rooting for you to make your own epic trip to Iran and getting to taste this drink as well! 🙂

  4. Fab and interesting post Azita. Can you elaborate on Persian ice cream for me… how is it different? texture? flavour? matching potential for carrot? 😉 I think it would have to be the pomegranate juice for me – sounds delicious!

    • Margot joon, it has cardamom and rosewater in it and the texture is denser and stickier … does that make sense? it’s hard to articulate. It’s VERY good, ha ha 🙂

  5. I have fond memories of walking along the Chahar Bagh in Esfahan on hot summer days and cooling off with ab talebi. To this day I haven’t found its equivalent anywhere else.

    • Awww! Thank you dear Michael for sharing that sweet and vivid memory!

      By the way, if you have photos and stories of your time in Iran that you wouldn’t mind sharing publicly, I would absolutely LOVE to post them on the blog. Please email me if you’d like to do that: Fig@Figandquince.com

  6. Ohhh I love the tea with the chia seas! Beautiful. Ohh pomegranate juice. I never would have thought carrot juice with ice cream would work, but why not? YUM. I love this highlight on Iranian juices! Hope you’re well dear Azita.

  7. Pingback: Thirsty? Here are Some Interesting Persian Drinks You Need to Try - Barakabits

  8. Fascinating, the chia seed drink looks so intriguing and carrot juice with ice cream, what a treasure trove of discoveries (or re-discoveries in your case). I’m going to ask my Persian friends what they used to drink in their childhoods and make some, super interesting. Thanks for sharing! Nicole

    • Delighted that these beverages peeked your interest dear Nicole! keep me posted once you talk to your Persian friends with what you end up making. I’ll share the recipe for making the chia seed sharbat in a month or so as well. It’s a classic! Thank you for visiting and for your lovely comment! Azita

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