This Persian recipe is apparently served the night before Norouz in many households. However, this was the first time I had ever heard of anything other than Sabzi Polo ba Mahi being served around Norouz. Either way I made Reshteh Polo and must say I liked it! And the good news is you can adjust some of the ingredients to your liking.
Ingredients (2-4 servings):
3 cups rice
100-120 grams Reshteh Poloee –this is Reshteh that has been roasted. You can buy raw Reshteh and roast it yourself, or buy the ready package. Both are found in Persian Grocery Stores…sometimes in international stores. Note: Reshteh resembles Vermicelli
stew meat, chicken, or fish — I used .5 lb stew meat for this specific recipe
dates (khorma) –Optional
1 small onion
Rinse and wash your rice then soak it in water (add salt as well). If you plan on using dates wash the dates and take out the seeds from the centers. If you plan on using raisins wash them too.
Cut up the onion. Cut up your meat if its not already cut into pieces. Add some oil in a pot (set temperature of burner to medium) and fry the onions until they begin turning a golden color. Add the meat and stir. After a few minutes add salt, pepper, and turmeric to the meat and stir the contents. Add about 1 cup of water to the meat and cover the pot with a lid and allow the meat to cook for 35-45 minutes on medium heat.
Once the meat is ready set the meat aside and strain a bit of the stock. Add a small amount of saffron to the stock and oil if needed then set aside. Then break up the Reshteh Poloee into smaller pieces (not too small and not too long).
Fill up a large pot halfway with water and place it on the stove (high heat). Once the water comes to a boil add the rice and salt water to the pot. Allow the rice to begin coming to a boil and then add the reshteh into the pot. You want to allow the reshteh to soften a bit. Once the contents in the pot begin coming to a boil again you want to use a strainer to empty the rice and reshteh. Add some oil and water to the pot and place it back on the burner (the heat is still on high).
Note: some people don’t place the pot back on the burner until they have returned the contents to the pot. If that is the case you will place the lid on the pot and allow steam to gather before placing a towel or cloth (damee) on the lid of the pot and allowing the polo to steam.
Add half the Reshteh Polo to the pot and then add the meat, raisins (optional), and dates (optional). Afterwards add the remaining Reshteh Polo on top of the meat and other contents. Pour the stock over the Reshteh Polo. Cover the lid of the pot with a cloth or towel and place on the pot. Once steam begins escaping from the sides of the lid take the temperature down to low and allow the Reshteh Polo to cook an additional 40 min. - 1 hour.
When you are ready to serve mix some saffron with hot water and add some of the Reshteh Polo to it. Once you have all the Reshteh Polo in a serving platter you can add the saffron rice on top of the dish.
There are a few different styles that are used to make rice. There is the style where you strain the rice after it cooks a bit and then allow it to cook more after it steams (or as we say “dam mikeshe”). Another style is where the rice is not strained, but cooks with the water and once the water evaporates the rice is allowed to cook longer after it steams.
I typically strain my rice and here is the recipe I will share with you.
Ingredients (4-6 people):
4-5 cups rice
oil or butter
saffron (optional) –this would be used to give color to a small amount of rice that will then decorate the top of your rice when you serve it
Wash your rice well and then pour cool water onto the rice and add salt to the water. Allow the rice to soak for at least 2 hours in this salt-water.
Fill a pot (medium to large size pot) halfway with water. Place the pot on the stove burner and set the temperature to high. Once the water comes to a boil add the rice along with the salt-water into the pot. Keep the temperature on high and allow the rice to come to a boil. While the rice is boiling you may wish to remove some of the foam with a spoon. As the rice begins to rise and come to a boil you can add a bit of cold water to it. This will elongate the rice. If you do this allow the rice to come to a boil again (still remove foam). This time when the rice comes to a boil empty the rice into a strainer.
Set the pot back on the stove top with the temperature still set to high (if you want you can bring the temperature to medium-high if you plan on adding lavash or potatoes for the tah dig). Add water and oil to the pot and allow them to heat up. Note: if you do plan on using lavash or potatoes for the tah dig add a bit more oil or butter. Once the oil and water is heated empty the rice in the strainer into the pot. Use a large spoon to gather the rice in the center of the pot. Place a cloth or towel on the lid of the pot and cover the pot.
Once steam begins escaping the sides of the lid bring the temperature down to low. Note: don’t bring the temperature done the moment steam begins escaping…wait until its escaping from a few locations all around and at a faster rate before turning the heat to low.
Depending on the amount of tah dig you want allow the rice to cook for at least 40 minutes to over 1 hour.
There are a variety of different Polo recipes that follow this basic process with a few added steps due to added ingredients. Also, most of the khoreshts (stews) go well with this type of Polo (rice).
I think as far as dami dishes go Dami-e Baghala is one of my favorites. I don’t know if its because of the turmeric flavor the rice gets, or the fact that the rice gets so soft. I typically buy frozen or dry lima beans to make dishes that need baghali in them, but you can buy fresh baghali if you feel like it.
Ingredients (4-6 people):
3 cups rice
1 small/medium onion –finely chopped up
1 - 1.5 teaspoon turmeric (zardchoobeh)
250 - 300 grams dry or frozen lima beans –I buy baby lima beans
1/4 - 1/2 oil
50-70 grams raisins (optional)
Heat up about oil in a large pot and add the onions to fry. Stove top burner should be on medium temperature. Fry the onions until they become a golden color then add the turmeric and stir. Add 2 to 3 cups of water then wash the lima beans (if necessary) then add to the pot once the water. After adding the baghali to the pot add some salt and then cover the pot with a lid and allow the beans to cook for awhile.
After about 20 minutes wash the rice and then add to the pot along with 3 - 3.5 cups of water. Stir all the contents together and take the burner down to a medium-low temperature. Allow the contents to cook and the water to evaporate. If you wish to add raisins, wash the raisins, then add then to the center of the rice (open the center of the rice and add the raisins). After most of the water is evaporated put a towel over the lid and put it over the pot and allow the rice to prepare and “dam bekeshe” for approximately 1 hour.
Note: The more water you add the stickier the rice will be as well. So if you want the rice to be a bit stickier you may want to add more water.
Yogurt is my garnish of choice with Dami-e Baghala…and sunny side up eggs go well with the dish. If you really want some meat you can possibly make some chicken or meat to add for garnish.