Drinking in Iran | Cheers for Doogh!

Mustachioed Persian Gentleman drinking doogh. Modern Calligraphy Art behind him. | FigandQuince.com Tehran, Iran

Ponder!

Mustachioed Persian Gentleman drinking doogh. Modern Calligraphy Art behind him. | FigandQuince.com Tehran, Iran

Chug!

Mustachioed Persian Gentleman drinking doogh. Modern Calligraphy Art behind him. | FigandQuince.com Tehran, Iran

Salute! Be Salamati! Cheers!

In this fifth 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 and epic trip to Iran — I thought it was high time to talk about one of the most popular Persian soft drinks, and that would be … doogh.

Iranians love doogh! But what is doogh? Let’s commence with our pictorial journey to find out. (Warning: there may be many yummy Persian food pix along the way as well. Accordingly, proceed your viewing pleasure with caution.)

Well, doogh is a yogurt-based beverage (seasoned with salt and dried mint and garnished with fresh mint, sometimes carbonated, sometimes not) that in some ways may be considered Iran’s national drink. It’s what the featured (gregarious and very charming) Iranian gentleman is drinking.

Mustachioed Persian Gentleman drinking doogh. Modern Calligraphy Art behind him. | FigandQuince.com Tehran, Iran

Side note: I snapped this shot after a yummy Persian lunch at the executive lunch room of a big deal company in Iran, where this lovely gent is a hot shot top exec. I got to be there because Afooli, one of my besties (she and her hubby are truly the best, and they were my gracious hosts for the bulk of my visit in Iran) is the Vice President of this aforementioned big deal company. Everyone except for the president of the corporation reports to her. Isn’t that interesting? Not what you might have expected about women in Iran, huh? Much more on Afooli and her work (and the food and adventures we had together) sometime soon.

Right now, let’s catch up with doogh! That classic minty, healthy, zesty yogurt-based Persian soft drink!

When it comes to the Persian culinary arsenal of goods, most Persian foods and drinks tend to bewitch and seduce the palettes of everyone at first taste. Doogh, however, is one of those rare tough sells for those unfamiliar with its taste– which is robust and tart and almost sour. Nothing shy about doogh’s flavor, specially when it’s carbonated. Basically, doogh may best be categorized as an acquired taste. A taste that once acquired, however; does lead to a lifelong craving and infatuation! Or maybe doogh is not so much an acquired taste as what you’ll begin to appreciate once you acquire taste! (Ha ha, this is an old joke!)

Do you know what pairs supremely well with doogh? Cholo kabab! It’s a marriage made in shekamoo heaven.

Doogh (yogurt based soft drink) at Persian restaurant (cholo kababi) in Tehran, Iran.

Cholo Kababi Yaas – Tehran, Iran (Farmanieh)

A snapshot at a popular cholokababi restaurant taken by a shekamoo nursing a thick minty cold glass of doogh, patiently waiting for the cholo kabab to arrive.

Plate of kabab & jojeh kabab served w Persian rice and doogh and mast musir at popular Iranian restaurant in Tehran, Iran | FigandQuince.com

A popular cholo kababi in Tehran, Iran

Check out the cholo kabab once it finally arrived! Vai vai vai!!!!  (The plate at the bottom left is mast musir by the way, remember the yogurt mixed with Persian shallots? As you can see, Iranians have an unmitigated passion for yogurt!)

plate of cholo kabab (Persian rice and meat) with a glass of doogh (yogurt based Persian soft drink) at a restaurant in Tehran, Iran |FigandQuince.com

cholo kabab & doogh. Mouth: watering. PUDDLE Of drool: forming!

In sum:

Doogh goes with cholo kabab like breath goes with life. Need more be said?

But Iranians pair doogh with other types of food as well.

A Persian dinner table at a restaurant in isfahan, Iran | FigandQuince.com

A delicious meal in the enchanting city of Isfahan!

This was in Isfahan. At a nice dinner with my lovely Khaleh Farzi (my maternal aunt.) We had doogh with fesenjoon, and that yellow thing? That’s a specialty dish of Isfahan called “khoresh ‘e mast” which is a most interesting dish I “must” tell you about, and I swear the pun is unintended. (Note to self: Write the long neglected post about the utterly beguiling city of Isfahan!)

Persian lunch (polo khoresh doogh and torshi)in a kitchen in Shiraz | FigandQuince.com

Persian lunch in a kitchen in Shiraz!

This was a lunch at my paternal aunt’s kitchen in Shiraz. Note the bottle of doogh on the table. But for the love of all that is delicious, please also note the po’lo and khoresh (eggplant stew with ghoreh.) Of course there’s the sabzi khordan plate of edible herb (I told ‘ya, it’s always there at a Persian dinner table) and the bowl of my aunt’s rocking homemade torshi aka pickles.

Now my mouth is watering in earnest.

Festive Persian lunch party in Tehran, Iran | FigandQuince.com

Talk about a festive & decadent Persian lunch!

Check out the doogh-being-poured-into-the-glass action. This was at a very fun and festive family lunch at my lovely khaleh Fuzzy’s house in Tehran.

bottled doogh (Persian yogurt based soft drink) for sale at rest stop in Abeli, Iran |FigandQuince.com

Doogh for sale at Abeali, Iran

You can find bottled doogh in almost every Persian deli and supermarket all over Iran.

But do you know when doogh tastes the best? When you buy it from one of the many Abeli vendors (skiing resort half way between Tehran and Shomal) on route to and fro’ the Caspian sea.

Doogh can easily be made at home as well. The ingredients are few and simple: yogurt, water or club soda, salt, dried mint, ice cubes, and optional fresh mint for garnish. The technique and measurements vary however. When it comes to homemade doogh, each family have their own tried and true method.

Mustachioed Persian Gentleman drinking doogh. Modern Calligraphy Art behind him. | FigandQuince.com Tehran, Iran

A loaf of bread, a pitcher of doogh, & cholo kabab!  That’s the stuff of life!

And that’s it for our chapter on doogh. Allow me to repeat that: Iranians love doogh! It’s healthy, it’s delicious, it cools you off and it refreshes. (And let’s face it, Persians have an obsessive love affair with all things yogurt.)

I’ll post my Baba’s homemade doogh recipe sometime soon. It’s totes simple.

Till then, xoxo

The End script graphic

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21 thoughts on “Drinking in Iran | Cheers for Doogh!

    • Hi Jim, oh yeah, the carbonated version is doubly an acquired taste! And ah, so cool that you had doogh in Shiraz! That must have an interesting back story for sure.

    • Hi Pamela, ab-anar is hands down my favorite as well. It’s like an elixir of life as far as I’m concerned. Re the sprinkling, you mean what do they sprinkle on ab-anar? Or on doogh? They usually sprinkle either crushed dried mint or even crushed rose petals on doogh. But I never had ab-anar sprinkled with anything. Although perhaps “golpar? Because traditionally pomegranate arils are sprinkled with “golpar” (translated as ground Angelica here) so that might be it.

    • you know, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re if not entirely similar things to be at least kissing cousins of sorts. thanks for sharing, appreciate it!

      • Ayran is (astonishingly) yogurt diluted with water on a 1:1 ratio.

        It took me years (YEARS) to believe all my Turkish friends about this, but they were not hiding anything. I sometimes blend in a bit of salt or garlic but it’s not necessary.

        Doogh seems to be more fermented and effervescent. I’m trying Phickle’s recipe sometime soon, but I won’t be able to compare it to the real deal.

  1. I had doogh and I liked it, but the one’s you buy in Persian stores here, they are slightly too salty for me, without I would fall in love with it. Never thought to make it at home, thank you for that inspiration. Would you know the measurement between the amount of yoghurt and soda water? As always I love your grand posts, chiele merci, Azita joon.

    • Cornelia joon, I’ll ask my father, who’s the doogh maker in our family, but who whenever I ask him to give me precise instructions on how to make doogh says: “kari nadereh!” (“There’s nothing to it.”) BUT, armed with your inquiry, I will make solid request for specific recipe.

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  4. I love the piece of art work we see on your pics in the lunch room of that big deal company!
    Also, I’m looking forward to getting to your dad’s doogh recipe (it’s probably published by now; I’m just slowly catching up on blog reading…). I really liked doogh, but since I became vegan, the only way for me to enjoy it again would be to make my own. Of course, my vegan version would certainly taste somewhat different, but I bet that making it using my homemade nut milk yogurt would give delicious results!
    I’ll let you know how it turns out once I’ve had a chance to give it a try.

    • Dear Josiane, I wish I could remember the name of the artist. That “big deal” company was filled with original artwork by some amazing Iranian artists. Some famous, some recently discovered.

      Re vegan doogh: wow, would love to hear report of how yours turn out and alas, I’ve yet to post my father’s recipe … I am BEHIND in so many ways … I need some doogh to perk up and catch up 😉

      xo
      azita

      • An office filled with such awesome artwork must be a lovely place to go to work! I have no doubt there are amazing pieces in their collection. I’ve had the good fortune to see two exhibitions of Iranian poster art (one in Paris, the other in Esfahan) that made me fall in love with Iranian contemporary art.

        No worries about the doogh recipe. I am so desperately behind on everything, too, that homemade vegan yogurt won’t happen for a while. The stars will align in due time. And who knows, maybe we’ll end up catching up simultaneously!

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