By Naghmeh Mizanian

Women’s culinary, an attempt for entrepreneurship

August 27, 2018

TEHRAN -- The idea came up from a road trip Matin took with a group of Spaniards around Iran.

“It was then that I realized how limited we are in our choice of food in restaurants and how the menus kept repeating the same few dishes over and over again. 

“Most of the people on that tour came to the conclusion that Iranian cuisine has little to offer with not much variety. I obviously knew that it wasn’t true but proving it would only be possible if we were to get invited to an Iranian home.” said Matin Lashkari, the co-founder of persianfoodtours.com in an interview with the Tehran Times.

Two Iranian women entrepreneurs, Matin Lashkari and Shirin Tahanan, created food tours in Tehran in 2015, inviting many tourists interested in cooking mainly from Europe. 

Having worked in the tourism industry, 28 year-old Matin comes from a graphic design background. She is a freelance travel writer and also works for a travel company. She is also the guide for culinary walks and bazaar wanders.

Shirin, 34, is master of fine arts and mother of two.  Her love and passion for cooking has brought her knowledge of arts to the table instead of the canvas. She runs regular cooking courses at her own kitchen. She is Persian Food Tours’ cooking instructor and recipe developer.

Together they’ve used their strong entrepreneurial spirit to turn their experience and love of cooking into a thriving business.

Persian Food Tours combine guided walking tours of Tehran’s Tajrish bazaar with cooking classes. 

“At Persian Food Tours we offer half-day food adventures, making it perfect to add to even the tightest schedules in Tehran. We’re here to promote Iran’s culinary culture, share the secrets of a Persian kitchen and enrich your trip to Iran with one tasty memory,” she stated.

Not afraid to challenge conventions, Matin and Shirin are accustomed to acting as pioneer forces and bravely paving their own paths against the grain. In doing so, they’ve inspired numerous women throughout Iran to follow in their footsteps and go for what they want to do.

“Apart from myself and Shirin, there are five other girls who work with us on the project,” Matin said.

Majority of food tourists are from Germany and Switzerland but there are also a bunch of Australians and Kiwis, explained Matin, emphasizing that surprisingly they are mostly women. 

“A little search on google will bring them straight to our website. We’re also mentioned by a few guide books such as the Lonely Planet and Bradt, have 5 star rating on Trip Advisor and I also promote our food tours on my personal English travel blog Travestyle.com,” Matin explained.

“We’ve had a few people who made a short weekend trip to take the food tour but apart from that people choose our tours as a supplement to their trip to Iran,” Matin said, adding, “They normally stay around 2 weeks and visit Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz and Yazd.”

Matin further went on to explain that “we’re currently only in Tehran but we’ve been building up our team in Esfahan and we’ll soon be launching our food tours there. Hopefully will also have a branch in Shiraz by the end of the year.”

Due to Iran’s geographical location and the many invasions and conquests of the mighty Persian Empire, today’s Persian cuisine is enriched with tastes and flavors of Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Caucasian, Turkish, Indian, Greek and Arabic gastronomy.

“We have fixed recipes for every season which include a starter, main dish, side dish, dessert and a traditional cold drink. We’ve tried to set up our menus based on food that is most consumed in Iranian homes every season. We’ve always found tourists to be happy with our choices but they occasionally request to learn certain dishes. We’ve learned that Tahchin and Tahdig are a favorite to many,” Matin stated. 

“Iranian women are some of the most assertive women I’ve seen. Despite the limitations, they’ve come a long way. There’s a lot more of them working and some of them own very successful businesses,” Matin concluded.

NM/PA

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