December 13, 2008

Polow - Persian Rice

Iranian Saffron Polow

پلو Polow is a staple of Persian cuisine. There are different kinds of rice and many different ways of preparing a rice dish. The best kind of rice is the black-tail rice (dom-siah) which is very similar to the Indian aromatic basmati rice. The best method for cooking rice is first parboiling and then steaming the rice until it is tender and fluffy.

Persian Saffron Rice
Polow Polo

Polow Zaferani - Persian Saffron Rice

Serves 4

2 cups long-grain white basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water
Butter/vegetable oil

  1. In a large bowl rinse the rice with cool water a few times to get rid of the extra starch. Soak the rice in 6 cups of cool water, add 2-3 tablespoons of salt, set aside for at least a couple of hours.
  2. In a large non-stick pot, bring 6 cups of water to a rapid boil on medium-high heat. 
  3. Drain the rice and pour it into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil on medium-high heat for about 7 minutes or until the grains are long, soft on the outside, and hard in the center. Drain the rice and rinse it well under cool running water.
  4. Wash the rice pot and return to heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to the bottom and one tablespoon of saffron-water mixture. With a large spatula return the parboiled rice into the pot, building it into a pyramid shape away from the sides of the pot. To release the steam make 4-5 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula. 
  5. Cook the rice for 7-10 minutes or until rice is steaming. When the steam starts to come out, pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter and the remaining saffron over the rice, add 1/4 cup of water around the sides. Wrap the lid with a clean cloth (dam-koni) to absorb the water, cover, lower the heat and steam the rice on low heat for another 45-50 minutes.
Serve rice and tahdig on a platter. 



  1. I'm so happy to have found your blog!

    I wanna make koobideh kabab and this rice soon!

    I have some Iranian friends and I love the food, hopefully I can make it some justice.

  2. Omigosh! This was DELISH!!! I'm no expert on Persian food, I've frequented 2 great Persian restaurants where we always get koobideh. I never thought I'd be able to make some that tasted as good, but this was even better!!! Thank you!!! I used lemon instead of lime since that was all I had, but other than that followed the recipe to a T. YUUUUUM!!!!

  3. Hi Azita, can you explain the purpose of soaking the rice in salt water? I remember my mom always doing this but whenever I try to the grains of rice break. Any insight you could provide is appreciated :)


    1. Jason, soaking rice in salt water adds flavor, reduces the stickiness and improves the texture. To prevent the rice from breaking you may want to do the following:
      Rinse without agitating the rice too much.
      Soak the rice for only an hour or two.
      Don't stir the rice during cooking.
      When draining, rinse with cool water.
      Allow the rice to drain well.
      Cover the lid with a kitchen towel/paper towel and cook for 45-50 minutes. Don't over cook.

  4. Hi Azita
    Is it necessary to have a non-stick pot? I've tried a couple of times on a stainless steel pot but it failed and I was wondering if this might be the reason.

    1. Nico, you can make rice in a regular pot. I use a non-stick pot because the rice/tahdig doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.

  5. How many cooked cups does this yield?

  6. We always eat, have we ever think about its production?