Iranian dishes excel at making people who have never tried them fall in love at the first bite. The unique combination of spices and flavorings with a wide range of vegetables, herbs, fruit, grains, nuts, meat and most importantly rice only needs the wand of Iranian cuisine to perform magic and leave an explosion of unforgettable tastes in the mouth. The delectable smell, delicious look and perfectly pleasant taste make it almost impossible to resist them. To share the gastronomic delights of Iran, IFP has decided to file a series of mouth-watering recipes for Iranian dishes.
Loobia Polo is a truly delicious Iranian rice dish served as a main course. Its simple combination of rice, meat, green beans and spices might make one think of it as a very ordinary meal, you will be pretty amazed at how these ingredients come together to please your palate.
1. Four cups rice (400 grams)
2. 350 grams minced beef
3. 350 grams fresh green beans –Top and tail the green beans and cut them into one-inch pieces.
4. Two to three large onions – The onions should be peeled and thinly sliced.
5. Three to four tablespoons tomato paste
6. Four large tomatoes –which should bepuréed.
7. Three level teaspoons saffron –You will need a pestle and mortar to grind it into powder; the powder should not be prepared much in advance, because it will lose part of its aromatic smell. You had better brew it with a little hot water to have better color and aroma.
8. Two level teaspoons cinnamon
9. Salt, ground black pepper and turmeric to taste
10. Two potatoes –Peel and cut them into round slices.
How to cook Loobia Polo
1. Fry the onions in a pan with salt, ground black pepper, and turmeric until they turn golden brown. Put the green bean pieces in the pan and fry them for about 10 minutes. Add in the minced beef and fry it until it turns brown. Spoon in the tomato paste and mix it well with other ingredients in the pan. It should be fried with the mixture until it turns deep red; stir it frequently to prevent it from burning. Add the puréed tomatoes to the mix and fry it for a few minutes. Then you can add some water to the mixture to let the meat and green beans cook. The final sauce should be thick, otherwise your mixed rice will turn mushy by the time the meal is ready.
2. Rinse the rice with lukewarm water a few times, then soak it for a few hours in water to which four tablespoons of salt has been added. Bring some water to a boil in a pot and then add some salt to it. Drain the salt water from the rice and add the rice to the boiling water. Leave the rice in the boiling water until it is al dente. The rice should be neither too hard nor too soft; it should be firm and slightly chewy. Avoid overcooking the rice. Strain the rice in a colander and then rinse it with water to let it cool off.
3. In a bowl, mix half a cup of brewed saffron with a small ladle of oil. The amount of oil is subject to change; you can adjust it to your liking.
4. Drizzle some oil into a pot over a medium heat, so that a thin layer of oil covers the bottom surface of it. When the oil gets hot, turn down the flame and place the round slices of potatoes at the bottom of the pot.
5. Add a few spatulas of the rice into the pot over the potato slices and cover it with a layer of sauce. Put a pinch of cinnamon over it and pour a few spoons of saffron and oil on top of them. Repeat layering until no rice and sauce are left. You don’t need to mix the rice with the sauce thoroughly while layering. Wrap the lid in a piece of cloth and put it on the pot. The cloth won’t let the steam find its way out of the pot. It also absorbs drops of water formed as a result of condensation.
To help the steam form, turn up the heat for a few minutes and then turn the flame down. Be careful not to burn the potato slices. By the time the food is ready, they should be crispy and golden. The mixed rice usually takes about an hour over a low heat to cook.
6. At the end, if the rice is not well mixed with the sauce, before serving the dish, blend them gently together with a spatula. Place it on your serving dish and garnish it with the crispy golden potato slices.
Loobia Polo is usually served with Shirazi salad which consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, mint powder, salt, ground black pepper and fresh lime juice.