Just to be clear this Persian Recipe is what is referred to as Estamboli Polo in Tehran (and any other region in Iran that follows the same naming). Reason I mention this is that my Shirazi friends/family refer to this by another name …I forget the name…but either way they call Loobiya Polo by this name. The Shirazi Loobiya Polo is something completely different! I will make that dish someday soon and post that up as well.
There are different ways to make Estamboli Polo. Some people like to use potatoes (I am one of those people). Also, I don’t think you really need to make it with meat, but most recipes use stew meat (gheymeh style) and others use ground beef. I will explain the version with stew meat here and at a later time will make the version with ground beef. Finally, this dish is more of a damee style (where you allow the water to evaporate instead of draining the water after the rice boils). Obviously the more water the pot has, the softer the rice becomes and the more it sticks together.
.5 lbs cut up stew meat - cut up into tiny pieces as is done for Khoroshte Gheymeh
2 small/medium (or 1 large) potato — cut up into little pieces (squares)
5 (or more) tomatoes –cut up into little pieces
4 cups rice –presoak the rice after rinsing in warm water, add some salt to the water as well.
oil and/or butter
1 teaspoon tomato paste
4 teaspoons chopped up onion (or more if you prefer)
Saute the onions in a pot and once tender add the stew meat. Add turmeric, salt, and pepper. After about 5 minutes of stirring the stew meat go ahead and add a cup or a cup and a half of water. At this point go ahead and add the tomato paste as well and allow the gheymeh (stew) to cook until the water is mostly evaporated (the stew will be thickened). You can leave it on a medium temperature and occasionally stir it until it is prepared. Note: if you are using more stew meat then you will need to add more onions, water, and even tomato paste.
Once the gheymeh (stew) is close to completion go ahead and fry the potatoes in oil and then place aside. In the large pot you plan on making the Estamboli Polo pour in your rice, and add enough water to where there is at least an inch of water over the rice. Add a cup of water to your tomatoes and pour them on top of the rice. At this point there may be 2 inches of water over the rice. Add about 4 tablespoons of oil and a little more salt (if you didn’t add much salt to your rice). If you did not presoak your rice prior to this, it is a good idea to leave the contents of the pot as is for at least 1 hour to allow the rice to soak. If not you can probably just leave it for about 15 minutes.
Turn the pot onto a medium temperature and allow the rice to cook, and the water to evaporate. If you do not have enough water in your pot and the rice is not fully cooked, you may need to add a little bit more until the rice is completely soft. Your gheymeh (stew) should be prepared already. Once the water evaporate I added some butter and stirred it in, then poured in my potatoes and the stew and stirred it around a bit. I put a towel over the lid and covered the pot and allowed it to steam (dam bekesheh). After about 15 minutes (steam should be leaving the pot from the sides), I put the temperature on low. You want to allow the pot to stay on the stove top for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.