Drinking in Iran | Cheers for Doogh!


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!)

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.

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

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Comments (21)

  • Michael Boss 6 years ago Reply

    A cold glass of doogh on a hot summer day. Bakh, bakh!

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    You said it Michael! It is bah bah good! 😀
    So interesting that you’re already familiar with this drink.

  • Jim Bennett 6 years ago Reply

    I loved dugh but was a bit non-plussed when served up a carbonated version in Shiraz…yuch!

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    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.

  • Pamela Fadai-Fouladi 6 years ago Reply

    Love Doogh, refreshing and cooling but my favourite was ab-anar! Can you tell me what it was they sprinkled on it please?

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    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.

  • Elaine @ foodbod 6 years ago Reply

    The food all looks so good!!

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    I know! The food! It kills me too looking at it!

  • pistachiodoughnut 6 years ago Reply

    I have never had doogh, but looks to me like it might be on similar taste to Ayran from Turkey and Buttermilk drink known as “Chaas” in India.

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    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!

    shunra 6 years ago

    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.

  • 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.

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    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.

    Oh, you are so sweet, thank you so much don’t bother too much. I know the word “nadereh”. hehe

    shunra 6 years ago

    Yay! I’d love to see his recipe!

  • […] For example you may recall borani, a vegetarian genre of Persian dishes made with yogurt mixed with various types of veggies. Yogurt is also a tried and true ingredient liberally used in or added to hearty soups (like ash ‘e mast or ash ‘e reshteh); we also have yogurt as the essential and star ingredient of popular side dishes like mast ‘o khiar; and of course, last but not least, let’s not forget that yogurt is the main ingredient of doogh, a most popular Persian soft drink. (Remember this lovely dude?) […]

  • […] Rice 101; green bean khoresh; Persian cucumber & mint yogurt soup; doogh; and we’ll end on the heady note of how to hack a plain vanilla ice cream into a sensory […]

  • Josiane 6 years ago Reply

    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.

    Fig & Quince 6 years ago Reply

    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 😉

    Josiane 6 years ago

    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!

  • […] babies and kids and young adults, and we broke bread and ate cholo kabab and joojeh kabab and drank doogh. Need I say that it was good? Really really really […]

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