Chelow kabab or Chelo kabab is the national Persian food. The meal is simple, consisting of steamed, saffronedbasmati or Persian rice and kabab, of which there are several distinct Persian varieties. This dish is served throughout Iran today, but was traditionally associated with the northern part of the country.
Chelow kabab is served with the basic Iranian meal accompaniments, in addition to grilled tomatoes on the side of the rice, and butter on top of the rice. Somagh (powdered sumac) can be sprinkled on the rice. It is an old north-western tradition (probably originating in Tabriz) that a raw egg yolk be placed on top of the rice, though this is optional and no longer common. In fact, unless specifically requested, most Persian restaurants will not serve the rice this way due to safety concerns surrounding the consumption of raw eggs.
In the old bazaar tradition, the rice (which is covered with a tin lid) and accompaniments are served first, immediately followed by thekababs, which are brought to the table by the waiter, who holds several skewers in his left hand, and a piece of flat bread (typically nān-e lavāsh) in his right. A skewer is placed directly on the rice and while holding the kabab down on the rice with the bread, the skewer is quickly pulled out. With the two most common kababs, barg and koobideh, two skewers are always served. In general, bazaar kabab restaurants only serve these two varieties, though there are exceptions. A combination of one barg and one koobideh is typically called a soltani, meaning “for the sultan”.
The traditional beverage of choice to accompany chelow kabab is doogh, a Persian sour yogurt drink, flavored with salt and mint, and sometimes made with carbonated water.