Iran’s Caspian Sea is home to a variety of fish and aquatic creatures; however, it is mostly known for caviar, providing over 90% of the world’s caviar. It is also considered a precious souvenir from Iran.
Today, Iranian Caviar comes from the northern Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan Provinces bordering the Caspian Sea.
One of the reasons caviar is so expensive is that it comes from Sturgeons, which are endangered and rare species. Another reason is that Sturgeons take many years to get mature to develop roe.
It is said that the people of the Persian Empire were the first to taste caviar, believing it had medicinal properties and was a source of energy (a widely-held belief still today).
Because of its rich nutrition, Iranian Caviar helps boost the immune system, prevent cancer and decrease the risk of heart diseases.
The size, color, and the firmness of the eggs are the key factors in determining the quality of caviar. High quality caviar must have bright color with a natural ocean aroma and not a fishy smell. The eggs are divided into two categories of Regular and Imperial Caviar.
Caviar comes in different types; the most desirable caviar type is arguably Beluga Caviar known as Black Gold. The species is heavily endangered and difficult to farm-raise, making it much more yearned for.
The first Iranian farm-raised Beluga Caviar is located in Qom Province. The precious bottom-dwellers live in conditions similar to their species' natural ocean habitat.
For those who have a taste for it, it can easily be purchased as a duty-free item at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, in five-star hotels, or in some fish markets.