rice with green beans and meatballs (loobiya polo)

rice with green beans and meatballs

served on a large platter with a simple chopped cucumber and tomato salad

prep: 10'
cook: 30-40'

This dish is one of my favourites. I like to serve it on a large platter with a simple chopped cucumber and tomato salad. Make sure to top off the rice with a slathering of butter, letting it melt through the layers before serving.


  • 400g (2 cups) Basmati rice
  • 200g (2 cups) trimmed green beans
  • 200g (7oz) store-bought meatballs of your choice- beef, pork, lamb or mixed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 45g (3 tbsp) tomato paste
  • 120ml (8 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • optionally, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and ground dried rose petals


  • to make the sauce, heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan
  • add the chopped onion and fry for 3 minutes until translucent and slightly coloured
  • add turmeric and tomato paste and fry for 1 minute
  • add the trimmed green beans to the pan and fry for 2 minutes
  • add a cup of water, put the lid on and let it simmer away until the green beans are soft
  • add the meatballs and let them cook for another 5-7 minutes
  • soak the rice in a pot containing hot water and 2 heaped tablespoons of salt
  • cover and set aside to soften for at least 20 minutes
  • Iranians sometimes soak their rice overnight; this reduces the cooking time considerably
  • bring a litre of water to a boil in a large saucepan
  • make sure it is big enough to contain the rice, which will double in volume when cooked
  • pour the soaking water of the rice away and add the soaked rice to the boiling water
  • cook only until the rice grains are half-cooked
  • to be sure, press a rice grain between two fingers; it should be soft on the outside but hard in the middle
  • strain the rice and set aside
  • heat 60ml (4tbsp) of oil in the saucepan you cooked the rice in
  • when the oil is piping hot, prepare your tahdig
  • you can use potato slices or flatbread to cover the bottom of the pan
  • add some salt and then layer your rice by adding two spatulas of rice over the tahdig spreading it evenly
  • sprinkle ground cinnamon and ground dried rose petals evenly on top of the rice
  • spoon a third of the sauce over the rice
  • repeat the layers until you run out of each, making sure to save enough rice for the top layer
  • make some holes with the handle of the spatula
  • pour in 125ml (½ cup) of water around the edge of the pot
  • reduce to medium heat and put the lid on
  • when steam starts to seep from beneath the lid, spoon a generous knob of butter on top of the rice
  • cover and lower the heat
  • cook for another 15 minutes

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