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 or so
  • add the trimmed green beans to the pan and fry for 2 minutes
  • they need to still be crunchy; they will cook through when mixed with the rice
  • add the meatballs to the pan and fry them lightly
  • when they turn a light brown colour, add the tomato paste and season with salt, pepper, and turmeric if desired
  • set aside
  • soak the rice in a pot containing hot water and 2 heaped tablespoons of salt
  • cover and set aside to soften; this will considerably reduce the cooking time
  • 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
  • after 10 minutes, transfer the soaked rice into 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
  • heat 60ml (4tbsp) of oil in the saucepan you cooked the rice in
  • when the oil is piping hot, add two spatulas of rice into the bottom of the saucepan, spreading it evenly
  • if desired, 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
  • pour in 125ml (½ cup) of water around the edge of the pot
  • reduce to a medium heat and cover
  • 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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