2021 & 2022
To share another culture’s food is to share part of its soul and nowhere is that more apparent than with the ancient culinary traditions of Persia. Our Taste of Persia adventure will introduce you to the very best of Iranian cuisine: vibrant, exotic, exciting and above all, delicious!
From Shiraz to Tehran, this is a tour made for food lovers. Sample fragrant stews and extraordinary confections, served with delicious, non-alcoholic digestifs. You’ll dine on dishes dating back to the time of Zoroaster and learn how to create your own Persian feast. This timeless cuisine is still prepared, eaten and savoured in 21st century Iranian homes, honouring centuries of unbroken tradition. Come and share it with us.
Salam! Welcome to Iran. You will be met on arrival at Shiraz International Airport and transferred to your hotel.
|Group size||Max 10|
|Physical rating||⚫ ⚫ 〇〇〇|
|Transport||Private Mini Bus|
|Meals||Daily breakfast, 8 lunches, 5 Dinners & 2 snacks|
|Accomodation||Hotel 4 star, Boutique Hotel|
Your adventure begins with a welcome meet-and-greet at 2pm. This will take place at either the Black Nomad Tent Restaurant adjoining your traditional guesthouse accommodation, or at Brentin Restaurant. You’ll meet Matin, your guide, and get to know your fellow travellers over a traditional Shiraz meal.
Once you’ve filled up, wash it all down with a traditional Iranian drink made from herbal extracts before strolling through the tranquillity and greenery of Bagh-e Eram, one of Persia’s most famous gardens. Next, get ready to experience the city’s most celebrated ice cream at Baba Bastani (which translates to “the father of ice cream”!)
As it’s your first day and you may need to rest after your travels, we return to the hotel to relax and make ready for tomorrow.
Known as the city of poets, flowers, gardens and wine (although there has been none of the last since the Islamic Revolution of 1979), Shiraz is a gorgeous place and this morning we’ll explore some of it on foot. We’ll take in sights including the Pars Museum, famed for its brick and tile work and home to some exquisite paintings by famous Persian artists, and the Karimkahn Citadel, the 18th century former home of Karim Khan.
Next we’ll stop at the bustling Vakil Bazaar to sample and learn about the making of traditional Iranian ice cream and the exquisite cold dessert known as faloudeh, a blend of noodles and frozen rose water syrup served with lime juice.
Iranian beverages are drunk for therapeutic as well as thirst-quenching properties. Distilling and mixing these is a fine art and the result is fragrant, flavourful drinks using diverse ingredients including rose, Egyptian willow, mint and walnut. We’ll learn more about these drinks on a tour of the large facility where some of them are produced.
Prepare to have your mind blown on an epic scale, as we drive 60 km northeast of Shiraz into the Fars Province countryside to reach the ancient city of Persepolis. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed site was once the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, and there are still some excellent examples of the Achaemenid architectural style—an eclectic mix of Egyptian, Greek and Assyrian features—preserved.
A short distance away is the necropolis of Naqsh-e Rustam, the final resting place of the Achaemenid kings and famed for its massive cliff face relief carvings etched into the limestone mountain.
Next, we’ll head back to Shiraz and learn to cook one of the city’s traditional dishes, known as kalam polo (“cabbage rice”). This is popular throughout Iran but the Shirazi version contains a secret ingredient not used elsewhere. Our cooking class will take place in an Iranian home where you’ll get to meet and chat with the local family.
Today, we leave Shiraz to experience a unique stay at the organic eco-village of Bavanat in Bazm village.
On our way we’ll stop at Pasargadae, a complex of places, gardens and mausoleums founded in 6BC by Cyrus the Great. Pasargadae was the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire and this UNESCO World Heritage site features outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture. We’ll spend time exploring its secrets.
The story of Bavanat began nearly 20 years ago. Two German lost in the rain, asked farmer Abbas Barzegar for help. He invited them in and gave them traditional Persian hospitality. Uneducated and poor, the father of three could not have foreseen how this one kind act would change not only his own fortunes, but those of his entire community. The German travellers, wanting to send thanks to their welcoming host, suggested that friends to call in on the family while visiting Iran. Eventually, guests offered to pay for staying overnight. The story goes on, and we’ll hear the rest from our host in the village.
We wake up early to explore and enjoy the organic farm, and will have one of our tastiest breakfasts with our host and his family. We leave the village and begin our journey to the ancient desert city of Yazd.
We stop after 160km (approximately two hours) to spend time in the historical town of Abarqu, located in the desert valley beneath the Zagros Mountains. We’ll take in the town’s main sights: an ice house (a specially constructed house that acted like a fridge), the 11th century Gonbad Ali Dome, the Khan-e Aghazadeh Qajar-era mansion, and a 4,000-year-old cypress tree.
We’ll lunch at a traditional restaurant, Koomeh-Bibi-Seyed. As soon as you enter this small, family-owned restaurant, you’ll travel into the past. You’ll see traditional bread-making in a tandoor oven and will taste dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in Iran. The recipes are passed from generation to the next, only in this part of the country.
If time allows, we’ll have a quick look at some other sites in the village before heading on to Yazd (another 165km, two-hour trip). On arriving in Yazd, we’ll head to our accommodation, Naranjestan Traditional House, and relax for the rest of the evening.
Known as the “City of Windcatchers”, the entire ancient city of Yazd became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017. Famed for its unique desert architecture, its sophisticated underground water channels known as qanats and its Zoroastrian heritage, Yazd is a labyrinthine maze of lanes and winding streets.
We’ll visit the Amir Chakhmaq Complex, a stunning place to see at dusk when its distinctive sunken alcoves are lit, and the Masid-e Jameh, a gorgeous mosque featuring dazzling blue tile work and crowned with the highest minarets in Iran. We’ll also marvel at the ancient technology of the qanats on display at the Water Museum.
Later, we’ll take a 40-minute drive to Taft, where Matin will introduce you to the culinary host who will cook a Zoroastrian dish for your lunch—an amazing experience to see the ancient recipes! After our meal, we’ll head back to Yazd, stopping on the way to see one of the most visited sites in Yazd: The Tower Of Silence or Dakhma, the ancient Zoroastrian burial ground.
Yazd is renowned for its sublime shirini (Persian sweets), amazing confections unlike anything else in the world. Wander around the shirini shops of Amir Chakhmaq Square and Yazd Bazaar (one of the world’s oldest traditional markets) and indulge your sweet tooth with such delicacies as gaz yazd (pistachio-filled nougat), pashmak (Persian candy floss) and ghotab (deep-fried crispy pastry filled with almonds and rolled in sugar).
After tasting some sweets and treating your taste buds, we head to a traditional restaurant for lunch (but leave some space because a very big dinner is waiting for us!)
Later this evening, we’ll head into the Yazd countryside to visit a local village and take part in traditions that go back centuries. Our local guide will lead us through the village and introduce us to its inhabitants, who will share stories about their lives. Then we’ll make our way to the house of our host, Hossein, where we’ll experience one of the most traditional meals in Iran: dizi (soup stew mashed into a paste). We’ll learn how to bake Iranian bread and you are welcome to participate in making your own. This promises to be an unforgettable night!
Today, we travel to Iran’s tourist capital, exquisite Isfahan. On our way, we’ll stop in Meybod (60km) to visit the Narin Qal’eh, or Narin Castle. This imposing mud-brick fort dates back to the 5th century BC and legend says it was built by jinns (spirits).
Famed for its architecture, Isfahan was once one of the world’s largest cities and has twice been the capital of Persia. While here, we’ll immerse ourselves in the sights, sounds and tastes of this exciting city.
On arriving in Isfahan, we’ll go straight to our hotel to rest and freshen up until evening. Then we head to the old part of the city to visit the famous Grand Bazaar. Dating back to the 11th century, this is one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Middle East and is a treasure trove of rugs, handicrafts, trinkets and spices (especially saffron). The bazaar is a colourful, bustling place at night, so stick close to your tour to avoid getting lost!
Isfahan Province is renowned for its agricultural bounty and today we will learn to cook this region’s signature traditional dish.
After breakfast, you have a free morning to wander through the bazaar. Later, we’ll meet up somewhere nearby and go shopping for the ingredients to cook up a fragrant Persian biryani for lunch. The secret behind a perfect biryani is the Persian steaming method of dam pohkt (“steam-cooked”). This ensures the layers of rice, meat and spices are cooked to perfection. Today’s lunch includes onions, shoulder lamb, turmeric, black pepper, cooking oil and Persian sangak bread, a mild sourdough flatbread.
After lunch we explore the Armenian neighbourhood of New Julfa. Established in the early 17th century, it is one of the oldest and largest Armenian quarters in the world and contains many picturesque churches.
After the sightseeing, we head back to our hotel to relax for the rest of the day.
After breakfast, we get ready for our flight to Tehran (approximately 1 hour) for the last stage of our tour.
Situated at the foot of the majestic Alborz mountain range, Tehran is Iran’s vibrant and progressive capital. Fifteen million people call this wonderful city home and although notorious for its noisy and chaotic traffic, there are plenty of green oases and beautiful buildings offering peace and quiet.
First on our tour is the spectacular Golestan Palace complex, the World Heritage-listed seat of the Qajar dynasty. Built over a 200-year period, the complex contains gardens, palaces and museums.
Next, we’ll visit Tehran’s enormous Grand Bazaar for shopping on an epic scale—each of the bazaar’s several corridors is over 10 kilometres long! Then, depending on the time of day we arrive in the city, we’ll take in either the National Museum or the National Jewelry Treasury.
After breakfast, Matin will take you to Tajrish Bazaar, famed for its produce. On our walking tour of the bazaar we’ll be introduced to exotic spices and Persian ingredients only to be found in this part of the world. This is your unique chance to experience shopping for fresh ingredients like the locals. Then we head to the kitchen to meet your chef and cook your meal together.
In a tour dedicated to beautiful food, we think the final meal today will quite possibly be the most memorable: Persian Jewelled Rice or mora’sa polov, a colourful rice dish decorated with barberry, almond and pistachio. This dish is named for its precious gem and metal colours — gold (saffron, carrots and orange peel), rubies (barberries), emeralds (pistachios) and pearls (almonds). Jewelled Rice is traditionally served at weddings.
With a delicious aroma wafting from the kitchen and the prospect of a wonderful evening ahead, the table is set and we chat and share stories of our experiences as we gather for a huge Persian feast.
If your departure is late tonight, you’ll be transferred to the International airport.
We’ve reached the end of your Persian Flavours experience. There’s nothing on the itinerary for today and you are free to depart at any time. Please note your hotel checkout time is 12pm.
Khodafez! Goodbye! We hope you will cook and share some of the Iranian dishes we’ve shown you on the tour with your loved ones at home.