It’s kind of a stretch to call this a “recipe” but Sandevich-e Kalbas is an essential part of Persian cuisine. Yes, this sandwich may seem rather ordinary, but it is it is anything but and is pure nostalgia for us Iranians.
Persians take the art of simple sandwich making very seriously and sandwich shops are very popular in Iran. My parents tell me stories of their favourite sandwich shop from their younger years in Tehran, Andre. There were crowds lining up for the best sandwiches Iran had to offer. Although they had many different varieties, they were famous for their Kalbas Sandwiches. Although I never had the pleasure of experiencing one of Andre’s famous sandwiches, my parents often re-created them at home in Canada. Tasting one instantly brings back childhood memories of picnics in the park and lunch at my Saturday Farsi school.
Kalbas is often referred to as Persian Mortadella. But there are significant differences from the Italian version. In terms of taste and texture, Persian Mortadella is almost like a cross between Italian Mortadella and Kielbasa Sausage (I suspect that is how Kalbas got its name). Instead of the traditional peppercorns, Kalbas is usually studded with pistachios and has a distinct garlic flavour. Also, while Italian Mortadella is made with pork, Persian Kalbas is often made with beef or veal, in addition to a pork version.
The perfect Kalbas sandwich is served on a soft baguette or a fresh submarine bun, with lots of mayonnaise, Persian pickled cucumbers and ripe tomatoes. I’m a purist, so when my husband suggested adding avocados (which I normally love in sandwiches) I almost had a heart attack. There are some things you just don’t mess with.
Soft French Baguette or bun
3-4 Slices of Kalbas (Persian Mortadella)
3-4 Slices of Pickles (preferably Persian Pickled Cucumbers)
3-4 Slices of Tomato
Salt & Pepper (optional)
Split the baguette or bun. Spread a good amount of mayonnaise on the bread and arrange the kalbas slices on the bread.
Top with the pickles, tomatoes and lettuce. You may season the tomatoes with salt and pepper if you wish.