When it comes to fruit and vegetable, Iran is pretty much self-sufficient. Seasonal fruit is such a great pleasure in Iran. However there are also some imported variety mainly banana, mango and oranges, coming mostly from the neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Lebanon and Egypt and as far away as the Philippines, Ecuador and Chile. The sight of abundant variety of fruit hanging and weighing down in every fruit and vegetable corner shops and supermarkets is a sure way to put a smile on every fruit lover’s face.
In Iran, fruits are usually served almost at all kinds of ceremonies and occasions. Second to tea, seasonal fruits are another integral part of Iranian hospitality. They are usually consumed before the main courses.
Every province and town has its own specialty of fruit products. Damavand, a northeastern town just outside of Tehran, is famous for its sweet and crunchy red apple, hence produces about 20 per cent of the country’s apple. Karaj is popular for its peaches or holoo, Natanz for its pear, Saveh for its pomegranate, Mashhad for its melon or kharbozeh and the area around the Caspian is noted for its sweet lemon and oranges.
Another interesting fact is about eating cucumber in Iran. Unlike in our home kitchen in Brunei or probably elsewhere too in other places, cucumber is usually categorized as part of our vegetable menu. However in Iran, it is placed in the same basket as fruits and is being eaten as one.
Last week I managed to take a few snaps of just what typical Iranian’s fruits and vegetable shops have to offer. It is also one of our regular and favorite stops for our fruits and vegetable shopping. Most of the fruit are of seasonal varieties, mainly catering for end of summer and early autumn such as peaches, grapes, pomegranate, and melon and honey dew. Apples, banana and oranges are almost available throughout all seasons, while summer fruits such as plum, cherry, berries, strawberry and smaller kind of peaches are no longer seen on the shelves.
Another popular Iranian fruit which I always look forward to at the end of Autumn is the persimmon or “khormaloo” in Persian. At this time of the year we could see the trees are already bearing fruits, which should be ready for the picking around end of next month until December. Back home, in the old days, we used to call this fruit ‘kasamak’ and were usually in its dried form, imported mainly from China.
However, over the last couple of years, one could not help but feel the drastic and exorbitant rise in the prices of basic commodities including fruits and vegetables, in line with the escalating rate of inflation and the cost of living in Tehran in particular and the country in general.
Back in 2005 a kilogram of sweet lemon cost only Rials 2,500, today it costs around Rials 15,000 per kg. Best quality pear from Natanz was Rials 10,000 per kg, today it costs five times more at Rials 50,000 per kg. A kilogram of grapes back then was only Rials 5,500, now it costs around Rials 18,000 per kg. Oranges were Rials 7,000 per kg. while today they are Rials 15,000 to 17,000 per kg.
But for the love of fresh, nutritious and healthy consumption of food, there seems to be no other choice left particularly for those housewives and trailing spouses residing in the city, but to accept the harsh economic reality – paying more for the price of less…!!
Arghavan vegetable and fruit market, South Dibaji
spoiled for choice...
spoiled for choice...
holoo (peach) from Tehran & Karaj
holoo anjiri (fig peach)...a summer fruit
best gulabi (pear) from Natanz...now about Rls 50,000 ($5.00) per kg
banana...mainly imported from Ecuador & the Philippines
usually produced end of summer
Anggur Shahroudi...crunchy, at Rls 19,000 per kg
shaleel..a kind of peach in white and green
sweet n juicy holoo...at Rls 38,000 a kg.
sib (apple).. also known as sib faransi (france)
Anar (pomegranate)...mainly from Saveh, south of Tehran
crunchy red apple from Damavand
from the region such as Egypt and Lebanon
Talebi (honey dew)
kharbozeh (melon)...from Mashhad