Sabzi Polow (Herbed Rice)
Persian New Year (Norooz) is the celebration of vernal equinox and revival of Earth with all its new vegetation. The Spring (bahar) parallels of this highly cherished pagan tradition doesn’t stop at Sofreh Haftseen and khuneh tekuni (major spring cleaning), and carries over to the first meal of the new year, Sabzi Polow ba Mahi, incorporating seasons fresh herbs and green foliage. Polo is cooked rice, sabz means green, and sabzi refers to herbs and vegetables that come together in Sabzi polow سبزی پلو, a rich rice pilaf that is topped with smoked white fish (Mahi). See recipe here.
Here is a picture of my simple dinner for 2014 celebration. The typical fresh herbs are parsley, cilantro, green onions, dill and fenugreek, with the last one being almost non-existent in the West. Please do let me know if you have any leads. It is a pleasure to know that you are trying new things and celebrating Spring with me!
(Do not substitute with fenugreek seeds, they taste nothing like the fresh herb.)
Ingredients (serves 4):
(Remove stems from parsley and cilantro. Remove bulbs from green onion. Finely chop herbs by hand or in a food process. Be careful not to over process to a paste)
- 3 cups white long grained rice (Basmati rice is preferred), washed and soaked overnight
- 3 cups fresh parsley
- 3 cups fresh cilantro
- 3 cups green onion
- 1/4 cup dried dill (preferred over fresh)
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp salt for herbs
- 2 Tbs oil/butter
- 1 Tbs brewed saffron (Dissolve 1/2 tsp of crushed saffron in 3 Tbs hot water. Allow to brew for a couple of minutes.)
Time~ Prep: 30 min Cook: 45-60 min
- Parboil rice according to the method used here. The estimated amount of water you need for 3 cups of rice is 4 cups.
- In a med. bowl mix all herbs and garlic. Season with a bit of salt.
- Place oil/butter and brewed saffron or equal amount in water at the bottom of the pan. Lay a thin layer of rice and add a generous amount of herbs. (see here if prefer potato or bread tahdig)
- Continue layering making sure to end with a layer of white rice.
- With a spatula create a rice-dome to keep it from sticking to the sides. With the other end of the spatula poke 4-5 deep holes in the rice to let the steam out.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes on med.-high.
- Wrap a kitchen towel around the lid, cover the pot and cook on lowest heat setting for 45-60 min. Don’t lift the lid during this process.
- Once done, gently mix with a fork to evenly distribute the cooked herbs.
Serve in a large platter with your cooked fish.
The crusty bottom is tah-dig and is served separately.