Guest Post – Persian Meets Paleo

Today’s post is brought to you by Taji at We’re Talking About Food. A fellow foodie, Taji focuses her blog on health through food. She offers some great tips on everything from how to start your day energized without caffiene to sharing recipes of dishes which showcase the real food. We have some similarities other than being foodies – both of our cultures have main staples that include non-paleo food. Italians love pasta and Persian dishes often contain rice. Both = not paleo! In her post, she offers other great insight on substituting non-paleo ingredients while keeping the ethnic dish authentic.

Below is her guest post on Mangia Paleo and her paleo recipe for Braised Ground Beef Kabobs with Shepherd’s Salad.


Eating Persian Food on the Paleo Diet: Braised Ground Beef Kabobs with Shepherd’s Salad

Hi everyone! First off, let me take a moment to thank Laura for letting me post on Mangia Paleo. It’s definitely an honor to work with such an insightful blogger and I always appreciate any opportunity I get to collaborate with someone in the food and nutrition community.

Laura obviously includes many Paleo-Friendly meals that have an Italian influence. But since my background is in Middle Eastern cuisine, we thought it’d be great to share something on other ethnic cuisines like Persian food. Learning new foods, techniques, and dishes is essential to staying on the Paleo diet. Not only will it keep you from getting bored, but it’ll also provide you with a variety of nutrients as different cuisines tend to emphasize certain fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Try these three simple types for eating Persian food Paleo-style—and an awesome recipe for stove top beef kabob!

3 Tips for Making Persian Food Paleo

  • Substitute Cauliflower for Rice and Bread—One of the undeniable staples to Persian food is mounds of Basmati Rice. Rice was probably introduced in the Persian diet around the 15th or 16th century when it was imported from India through the Silk Road. To get all the flavor of rice without the starchy and inflammation-producing carbs, substitute cauliflower for rice. Simply blend it in a food processor then steam lightly and you won’t even miss the rice. For an added flair, try steaming the rice with classic Middle Eastern spices like turmeric, saffron, and even cumin seed and cardamom to jazz things up. You can even grind cauliflower up and combine with it eggs to make a flatbread for meats and other dishes.
  • Take Advantage of Braised Proteins and Vegetables—Persian food is known for its khoreshts or braised stews. Using usually beef, chicken, or lamb, these stews also incorporate loads of fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs, to create a unique blend of sweet and savory. These stews are totally paleo and require minimal if any modifications. Even if you don’t have time to make cauliflower rice, you can enjoy these foods by themselves!
  • Use Cashews in Place of Hummus (or Even Yogurt)—Vegans have been using cashews and other nuts as a substitute for forever. Now Paleos can also get in on this dirty little secret. Soak one cup of cashews in water for two to three hours. Drain and blend with ½ cup of water and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Feel free to enjoy as is, or add spices like cumin and sesame seeds. You can even add diced cucumber, onion, garlic and dried mint to make a paleo tzatziki sauce!

Braised Ground Beef Stove Top Kabob with Stewed Tomatoes and Sumac

Who would have thought you could make kabob without the grill? Although most people think of kabob as meat on a stick, this stove-top version of kabob is a perfect weeknight meal. If you can’t find sumac, don’t worry. It’s a lemony spice that adds a lot of flavor to beef and actually aids in digestion. But if you can’t find it, no worries!



For the kabob:

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 ½ small white onions, ground into a puree using a high speed blender like a Vitamix (use your judgment, it’s easy add but hard to remove. You want a meat that’s moist but that you can also shape and mold)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Sumac, plus more for garnish
  • 6 medium plum tomatoes, cut in half length wise.

For the Salad:

  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix the ground beef with the onions until well combined. Season with salt and pepper and shape into small patties that are about the size of your palm.
  2. Braise the patties in a large pan in a little bit of olive oil if you’re meat is extra lean. Add a little water (2-3 Tbsp) if you notice the meat starting to stick to the pan.
  3. Let the meat mixture cook with the lid on for 35-40 minutes.
  4. Arrange the plum tomatoes on and around the patties. Also sprinkle the sumac over the meat. Recover and let it cook for another 20-25 minutes or until the meat is cooked and the tomatoes have shrunk in size.
  5. For the salad, simply combine all the ingredients together. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice right before serving.

Taji Mortazavi is the founder of We’re Talking About Food. Devoted to democratizing health, she believes anyone can be healthy regardless of medical condition, budget, career, schedule or other secondary lifestyle factors. Taji has worked with many bloggers in the food community, writing for publications like Thought Catalog, Lean It UP, and All Women Stalk. Subscribe to WTAF and check out her latest recipes here.

4 thoughts on “Guest Post – Persian Meets Paleo

  1. Shahrzad

    Why is this called Shepherd’s Salad? It’s a Sherazi salad. Doesn’t translate. Isn’t a peasant food. It’s just a style of salad that’s coined the name of the city known for it. In other parts of the middle east it’s also called Israeli salad. I was excited to find a post about Iranian/Paleo food, but the white washing was just off putting.

    Good recipe and great link to I’ve been looking for some Paleo adapted Iranian recipes.

    1. Mangia Paleo

      Hi Shahrzad,

      I’m sorry you were disappointed in the post. As you may have noticed this was a guest post from so you’ll be glad to know you can browse her recipes for possible less white-washing. To answer your question, it is called a Shepherd’s salad because it is similar to the çoban salatası, which is very closely related to a shirazi salad. You probably already know this tiny discrepancy and just wanted to point it out. Thank you.

      You don’t have to worry, all other posts on are written by me and include Italian inspired recipes. Enjoy.


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