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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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