My food journey from Tehran/Iran to Glasgow

Azita Boozchaloo is a nutritionist living in Glasgow, in this blog Azita talks about how her eating habits changed when she moved to Scotland from Iran and describes the hybrid Persian/Scottish dishes she enjoys creating.

I came to Glasgow from Iran more than 10 years ago. In Iran, rice and bread are essential staple foods consumed along with meat, vegetables, herbs and specific spices such as saffron, barberries and sumak. Persian cuisine is very healthy, containing the 5 main food groups، but there are limitations on availability of ingredients/products compared to the UK. Fruits and vegetables are mostly seasonal in Iran and not available all year round, also with less variety.

Since I have been here, I have become familiar with more variety of fruits and vegetables. This has resulted in changes and variations in my eating habits/diet and have tried different types of foods, such as British/Scottish, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Greek and so on, as well as developing hybrid Iranian/Other meals.

Furthermore, living in cosmopolitan Glasgow has provided me with the opportunity of becoming familiar with the food culture/feasts of Scotland/UK/other nations. One of the most significant is Burns night when haggis is served with neeps (swede/turnips) and tatties (potatoes)! We have a traditional dish similar to the famous Scottish haggis, called jaqur baqur, this is made of fried onion and chopped sheep’s offal (heart, kidney and liver), tomato puree and spices (saffron, cinnamon, turmeric). I took the idea from haggis and thought I could mix minced offal with bulgur wheat/peas and serve with mashed or roast potatoes together with a variety of boiled or roasted vegetables (carrots/ parsnip / broccoli/green beans etc).

Another favourite Iranian dish is kufteh (meat balls or meatloaf dishes) containing ground lamb/beef, rice, split peas, aromatic herbs (dill, tarragon, thyme, parsley, chives) and egg as a binding agent for the covering layer. Also, boiled egg, dried plums/prunes, barberries and chopped walnut are put in the middle, rolled into a ball and cooked in tomato sauce. It could be said that scotch egg is the Scottish equivalent of mini-kufteh, with sausage meat and breadcrumbs. So, I came to the idea of adding some savoury flavours, like barberries or dried plums/sour cherries to the scotch egg. Also, taking inspiration from the Iranian dish falafel, popular in South Iran, I thought of changing the traditional scotch egg to a vegetarian version, using chickpeas instead of meat. 

My life in Glasgow has introduced me to new ingredients and products such as parsnip, brussels sprouts, celeriac, fennel, and lots of others that I had not seen before. Being a real foodie and a nutritionist, and having a penchant for altering traditional recipes, I always love to develop new products. Hence, I am always using my initiative to improve the recipes and make them healthier and more flavoursome by using other available alternatives, for example using leeks or spring onion instead of chives.

Because of the multicultural nature of the UK and availability of ingredients throughout the year, the food culture has become more varied and infused with those of other nations, transforming the food culture and eating habits of the nation. For example, I can easily find Iranian fruits, such as quince and pomegranate، which are now more familiar to and commonly used in Britain as well. With advances in technology and the ever-increasing use of social media, all sorts of foods are introduced and consumed by people all over the world, including Iran, throughout the year.

A typical Persian dish is ash reshteh, a popular Persian soup made with spinach, herbs, beans and noodles. You can download the recipe for this delicious soup here

Author: Azita Boozchaloo, ANutr


Sign up for regular nutrition advice, recipes and information.

I agree to the data use as set out in the privacy policy at