KALLAJUŠ (KĀLJUŠ), an old Iranian dish, also pronounced kālajuš, kālājuš, kaljuš in different parts of Iran. It consists of fried onions, dried herbs, and boiled kašk (dried condensed whey), eaten with bread (crumbled or in pieces). The compound term kāljuš is composed of kāl meaning unripe, connoting cooked rare, and juš (boiling); because, when preparing kāljuš, people let it boil only for three seconds (seh qol; Dehḵodā, s.v., kāl and kāljuš; Moʿin, s.v. kāl and kāljuš; Moḥammad Pādšāh, s.v. kāljuš).

Foods containing kašk, including kallajuš, have been common among tribal peoples and villagers for centuries, especially in wintertime, as it is both easily prepared and affordable for low-income families. Kašk is quite nutritious and contains protein and calcium. Kašk processing was one of the easiest and most effective ways of conserving dairy products in hot climates during pre-modern times (see Aubaile-Sallenave).

Due to its affordability and simplicity, kallajuš has traditionally been associated with the poorer classes of society, to which certain references in prose and poetry texts bear witness. Kamāl-al-Din Esmāʾil’s (d. 1237) biting remark about kallajuš indicates that this dish dates back at least to the 12th century and that it has been one of the few dishes the poor could afford:


ḵājagān-e bā-navā aknun ḵowrand
kāči o totmāj o lut o maʿdani
bi-navāyān niz bahr-e ḵowd konand
dig-hā-ye kāljuš-e yek mani
(quoted in Dehḵodā, s.v. kāljuš).

Wealthy masters now eat
kāči, thick soup [āš], delicacies, and mineral water.
The poor also make themselves
pots of six kilos of kāljuš.


Preparation. To make kallajuš, sliced onions are first sautéed in heated cooking oil in a deep saucepan. When the onions have turned golden, turmeric, salt, pepper, and dried mint are added and cooked with the sautéed onions for two or three minutes. Then the desired amount of kašk is diluted in water and poured in the pan. The liquid mixture is heated until it comes to a boil for three seconds. Variations can be observed with different people and in different localities. One may like to add other dried herbs, such as tarragon or basil. Some people might add crumbled walnuts or (in Kerman) even small meatballs. Such options are, nevertheless, not common at all, the fixed essential ingredients being kašk, onions, turmeric, and mint. Persian lavāš bread or sangak is broken into small pieces (talit) and put in deep bowls of kallajuš and then eaten. Some people may prefer dried bread for the purpose.

Najaf Daryā-Bandari, the Iranian writer/amateur cook, seems to have equated kallajuš with eškene (I, p. 980), but the latter is technically a rather different dish that, among other differences, requires no kašk. That kašk is a basic component of kallajuš can be inferred from the fact that in some sources the term kaškāb (kašk + āb, water) has been given as a synonym for it (see Dehḵodā, s.v. kālbā as a variant for kāljuš, where Bosḥāq-e Aṭʿema’s verse has been given as an example; see also, Bosḥāq, p. 29). Under the sixteenth table in his book, Mirzā ʿAli-Akbar Āšpaz-bāši enumerates three kinds of kallajuš, two of which require kašk (p. 53).



Mirzā ʿAli-Akbar Khan Āšpaz-bāši, Sofra-ye Aṭʿema, Tehran, 1974.

Françoise Aubaile-Sallenave, “Al-Kishk: the Past and Present of a Complex Culinary Practice,” in Sami Zubaida and Richard Tapper, eds., A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East, London and New York, 1994 and 2000, pp. 105-39.

Bosḥāq-e Aṭʿema Širāzi, Kolliyāt, ed. M. Rastgār Fasāʾi, Tehran, 2003.

ʿAli-Akbar Dehḵodā, Loqat-nāma, 30 vols., 1958-66.

Najaf Daryā-bandari, Ketāb-e mostaṭāb-e āšpazi az sir tā piāz, 2 vols., Tehran, 2000.

Moḥammad Moʿin, Farhang-e fārsi, 6 vols., Tehran, 1963-73.

Moḥammad Pādšāh (pen name Šād), Farhang-e Ānandrāj, 7 vols., Tehran, 1956.

(Etrat Elahi & EIr.)

Originally Published: December 15, 2010

Last Updated: April 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 4, pp. 408-409