Sabzi Polo is a Persian/Iranian fresh herbed rice, traditionally served with white fish, especially at lunch on Naw-Ruz. I had the intention of presenting sabzi polo with trout, which I could not find in the market for the last few days. What goes perfectly with sabzi polo is grilled rainbow trout made by Cooking with Aunt Juju. Sabzi polo also goes very well with braised lamb, beef, veal or chicken and in addition to kuku sabzi … no, not an overkill at all!
My directions for this recipe are a little different than what you might see on other sites or in cookbooks. These are tips I learned over time which resulted in visually bright and well separated and distributed herbs and tastier rice. Make a note of three places with [**] in the directions, which highlight the differences.
Fresh Herb Rice • Sabzi Polo • سبزی پلو
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
Note: In order not to compromise the authenticity/integrity of the taste of this traditional dish, I advise not using any other substitutes as listed in Wikipedia or many recipes on-line .
• 2 cups basmati rice
• 8 cloves garlic
• vegetable oil
• smidgen ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water set aside for at least 1 hour
• 1 package frozen Kadbanou Sabzi Polo (parsley, cilantro, chives, garlic/garlic stems)
• 2 Tbsp dried dill weed (if it is not included in the frozen herbs’ ingredients)
↓ or ↓
• 2 cup parsley leaves, not too finely chopped (jãáfãri جعفری )
• 2 cup cilantro/coriander leaves not too finely chopped (geshniz گشنیز )
• ½ cup garlic chives not too finely chopped (tareh تره )
• ½ cup dill weed not too finely chopped -or- 2 Tbsp dried (shevid شوید )
 I do not recommend using dried herbs for this rice, other than dill weed.
To prepare the herbs
◊ If using fresh herbs: After stripping, wash herbs thoroughly and drain. Put a few cuts to the herbs, and then use food processor to chop the herbs into small pieces. (Don’t purée them.)
To soak the rice
◊ Although today, clean fine rice is available, some imported rice brands may contain small, non-rice particles which must be scrutinized and removed by hand before washing. Also, some brands may need to be washed with extra agitation until water is clear. Put the rice in a large enough bowl with plenty of water and rub the rice between two hands to scrape off any powdery substance. Drain in a fine-meshed colander. Rinse the rice until clear water runs through.
◊ Put the washed rice in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp salt, cover with water level 3 cm/ 1″ above the rice, stir gently and set aside for more than an hour. This can be done in advance and soaked for 3+ hours. (Note: A faster step for cooking rice is… wash rice and soak without salt for 30 minutes. Add the salt to boiling water and follow the next steps.)
To boil the rice
◊ Have a fine meshed colander ready in your sink, one with legs, so that it doesn’t touch the sink bottom.
◊ Fill non-stick, 9 cups capacity pot with 6 cups of water, **add the garlic cloves and 1 Tbsp salt and bring to a boil. Drain water from the soaked rice and add to the boiling water. Keep your attention on the pot or else the foam from the boiling rice may overflow.
◊ As the rice starts to boil briskly, lower the heat to medium-high (or a tad lower) and occasionally, gently stir the rice in a circular motion. After a couple of minutes, taste the boiling water (carefully) to insure the salt content is to your taste. Add salt if needed.
◊ In a few minutes, after rice begins bubbling like a fountain, it boils slower/thicker. Test/bite a grain to check its hardness. Do this repeatedly, as timing is very important. As soon as there is no more hardness in the center of the rice, it is ready. **For this recipe, it is better for the rice to be a little under-cooked. Turn off the heat.
◊ At this point, you must act quickly. **Lift the pot, drain half of the water in colander waiting in the sink (not any of the rice… a few grains are alright). Put the pot back on a cool burner/trivet, add all fresh herbs (except the dill, if using dried dill) stir/mix gently and drain immediately into the colander. Rice should not sit in the colander more than a minute (it will continue cooking and be sticky soft).
To steam the rice:
◊ Use a 20cm/8″ dia x 10cm/4″ deep non-stick pot, add 3 Tbsp oil.
◊ Avoid putting any of the the garlic bits at the very bottom of the pot (it burns fast), sprinkle boiled rice in the pot, spatula at a time (and if using dried dill, sprinkle a little each time). Straighten the top of the rice and make many vent holes with chopstick (see photo below). Drizzle 3 Tbsp of oil all over the top. Cover the pot with two sheets of paper towel and put the lid on tightly. On medium-low heat, steam for 45 ~ 55 minutes, for well crusted tah-dig.
◊ See the photos for serving suggestions:
¹ Put a platter on the pot at least 5cm/ 2″ wider than the pot on all sides and flip to serve the molded style.
² In a small bowl, dish out about 1 cup of the rice and set aside. Sprinkle the rest of the rice on the serving dish/platter keeping the tah-dig/crust at the bottom of the pot intact. Add teaspoon of dissolved saffron on to the rice in the bowl set aside, mix and sprinkle over the dished out rice in the platter. Loosen and dish out the tah-dig with wooden or non-stick, pot-safe spatula and serve at the side of the rice or in a different dish.
~ Noushe jan! • نوش جان ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?