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Anzali Doodkhane

The rustic environment of the smokehouse, where time seems to stop

This profession has a deep-rooted history, tracing its origins back to the era of the Soviet Union, when it migrated from those lands to the northern regions of Iran. It’s a craft that has stood the test of time, and it all unfolded for the first time in the quaint port city of Bandar Anzali, nestled within the lush province of Gilan in the picturesque northern part of Iran. It was in this charming locale that I embarked on a photographic journey, capturing moments that encapsulate the essence of tradition and culinary artistry.

This man brings the smoked fish from the room racks and these individuals are very authentic and hardworking.

As I stepped into the oldest smokehouse in Anzali, a time capsule of age-old customs and techniques, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the rich history that unfolded before my lens. Here, the legacy of the grandfathers endures, an unbroken chain of expertise passed down through generations. This, my friends, is where the magic happens, where we witness the birth of a mouthwatering delicacy known as “Mahi Doodi.”

In this section, the fish are thoroughly washed and kept in salt water for 8 to 10 days. This fish is called white fish, a native species of the Caspian Sea and is very delicious and famous. After being salted, the fish is ready to be dried in the open air.

In the world of Iranian cuisine, “Mahi Doodi” holds a special place. It’s a dish that embodies the quintessence of tradition, and it’s crafted with dedication and precision. The key ingredient is the White Fish, celebrated as one of the most iconic and cherished fish varieties in Iran. White Fish, known for its tender, flaky texture and delicate flavor, is often hailed as the crown jewel of the country’s aquatic offerings.

This fish is removed from the saltwater to dry completely and be ready to go into the smoking room.

As we delve into the culinary narrative of Mahi Doodi, we discover a process that’s as much a work of art as it is a culinary endeavor. The White Fish, carefully selected for its quality and size, is seasoned with a blend of aromatic spices and herbs, a secret recipe passed down through generations of fish-smoking experts. It’s this special combination of flavors that infuses the fish with its distinctive and delicious taste.

These woods hold the fish in the smoking room and look at their number, which indicates the high consumption of these fish.

The fish, now fully adorned with its flavorful coat, is ready for the smoking process. The smoky aroma fills the air as the seasoned White Fish is placed within the smokehouse, an ancestral chamber where the magic unfolds. The fish is then skillfully and patiently smoked to perfection, giving it that distinctive, mouthwatering flavor that Mahi Doodi is renowned for.

The fish are collected and prepared to enter a smoking room.

In the rustic setting of the smokehouse, time seems to stand still. The craftspeople who have dedicated their lives to this art have an almost poetic connection with the past. They methodically tend to the fish, ensuring that each one is bestowed with the unique character and smoky allure that defines Mahi Doodi.

These rooms are old and have a ceiling made of a plant that is woven into mats in the northern cities of Iran and Bandar Anzali. This type of ceiling is similar to the old-style ceilings of our hometown of Bandar Anzali.

The smoking process, a balance between tradition and technique, is a testament to the cultural heritage of this region. It reflects the profound respect and admiration the people of Gilan have for their ancestry and the flavors that have shaped their lives for generations. When you savor a piece of Mahi Doodi, you’re not just enjoying a culinary delight; you’re partaking in a centuries-old tradition, a taste of history, and a connection to the land and its people.

As I captured the artistry of Mahi Doodi in my photographs, I couldn’t help but be moved by the depth of this culinary tradition and the profound connection it forges between the past and the present. It’s a testament to the enduring power of cultural heritage, the flavors that define a region, and the unwavering dedication of those who keep the flame of tradition alive. The journey through the smokehouse of Anzali was a journey through time itself, a reminder that some things, like the irresistible allure of Mahi Doodi, never truly fade away.

In this room, smoke is created using wood chips, and the fish are hung from the ceiling to become fully smoked and dried.
Smoke always comes out of the front and ceiling of the smoking rooms, and this view is reminiscent of the nostalgic houses of northern Iran and Bandar Anzali.
The fish must be inspected to see if they are ready to leave the smoking room or not.
Nowadays, smoking house owners do not sell smoked fish, they only prepare them, and in the final stage, they separate them in a separate hall for customers who have brought their own fish to be smoked.
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Ali Nasrollahian

Since childhood, I have been fascinated by the whimsical and fantastical. I discovered the art of surrealism, a genre that enables me to transcend… More »

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