Loobia Polow (Green Bean Rice Pilaf)
Loobia polo was a weekly regular over at our house in beautiful city of Isfahan. If you were ever to visit, Isfahani’s would love to tell you “Esfahān nesf-e jahān” (Isfahan is half of the world). Being twice crowned as the historical Persia’s capital, it once was the largest city in the world. Today, it is mostly renowned for Naqsh-e Jahan Square میدان نقش جهان (or Image of the World Square) with ancient monuments and distinct architecture. One day, when I have more time, I’ll write a piece that will do Isfahan justice. Today, no matter how hard I try, my words seem too inadequate to describe…my city.
We better get back to food, before I get teared up……..well, too late.
Anyhow, the stew is simple, hearty and relatively quick to prepare by Persian standards. Judging from it’s name, the dish is meant to be served as a rice pilaf, but since it contains meat, you may serve it as stew over rice. My mom prepared it both ways, and personally, I am more of a stew & rice fan.
By the way, Loobia Polow is supposed to have a hint of tart. If using higher fat meat, you may need to use an extra tablespoon of tomato paste or more bit more lemon/lime juice.
There is our dinner from last night. Served with Mast-o sabzi (herbed yogurt dip) over tahdig (crusty tortilla) on the left side of the plate.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 2.5 cups rice
- 1 lrg onion, chopped
- 4 lrg garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1.5 lb ground beef OR stew meat (cubed)
- 1 lb fresh string beans, cut 1-inch long OR frozen green beans, thawed
- 1/4 cup tomato paste (see headnotes)
- 1 lrg ripe tomato, diced
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 lemon, juiced
- salt & ground pepper to taste
Time: 45 min
- Cook rice. For Cooking Persian rice follow directions here.
- Meanwhile, in a pan over med. heat, saute chopped onions in enough oil/butter ’til translucent (~5 min). Stir in the garlic and cook (~1-2 min). Stir in the turmeric and cinnamon ’till fragrant (~1 min). Use more oil if needed.
- Add in the meat and cook ’till browned on all sides (~ 10 min). If using ground beef do your best to break up the clumps.
- Stir in the tomato paste, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add beans, cover and cook on low heat for 15 min.
- Stir in the diced tomato, allow to cook for a minute, before laying over rice.
In Iran, it is usually served with plain yogurt, torshi.
For Western taste buds sour cream will work best.