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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fading Iranian Street Food: Fava Beans & Golpar (Persian Hogweed)


Each country has its own signature street foods, and each street food can give us clues about that country's taste, agriculture, weather, and much more. While growing up in Iran there were always street food vendors with carts in front of our schools and school children were always loyal customers of this business. There was no hotdogs, or burgers. Most common street foods at that time (1980s and 1990s) in Iran were cooked Fava beans (or Broad beans) (باقالی), steamed beets (لبو), boiled turnips (شلغم), and fire roasted corn (بلال). As you are probably thinking, the street foods were very healthy at that time. Unfortunately in recent years you see less and less of these type of food carts. This trend of healthy street food is largely vanishing and is being replaced by more processed food. I was surprised to see a cart selling Fava beans near the old Bazaar (market place) of Hamedan.

Whether you eat Fava beans at an Iranian home or on street it usually contains cooked Fava beans, golpar (گلپر), and salt. Golpar or Persian Hogweed is a plant native to Iran which has also been sighted in Norway and Sweden. It is aromatic and it is used in ground form for Fava beans. So in the above photo the brown power on the beans is golpar. I am sure this plant grows in other middle eastern countries that have somehow similar climate to Iran.