March 01, 2009

Sabzi Polow Mahi - Herb Rice with Fish

Iranian Sabzi Polo (Herbed Rice) with Mahi (Fish)

سبزی پلو با ماهی Sabzi polow (herbed rice) and crispy pan fried mahi (fish) is one of the main traditional meals for Nowruz - Persian New Year. There's only few weeks left before Nowruz and I'm all ready for the cold winter to be over. The weather is still very cold, the grass is brown and there are no blossoms on the trees. However, yesterday I made Sabzi polow - herbe rice with fried fish. These are traditionally served on New Year's day.

Persian Herbed Rice with Fish
Iranian Mahi (Fish) Crispy Pan Fried
Mahi- Fried Fish-Iranian-Style
Iranian Herbed Rice with Fish

Sabzi Polow Mahi - Herb Rice with Fish

Serves 6

2 cups long grain (basmati) rice
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh coriander
1 cup chopped fresh scallions (green parts only), use tareh instead if you can find them in markets where you live
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon saffron dissolved in 4 tablespoons hot water
Vegetable oil or butter

  1. Clean, wash, dry and finely chop the herbs and mix them together in a large bowl. It’s better to use fresh herbs for this dish; however there is always the dried sabzi polow herb mix that you can find in Iranian grocery stores.
  2. Wash the rice with cool water a few times. Soak in 8 cups of water, add 4 tablespoons of salt and set aside for a couple of hours. In a large non-stick pan, bring 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Drain the rice and add to the pot. Bring water to back to a boil for about 5-7 minutes. Test to see if the rice is ready. Rice should be firm in the center and soft on the outside. Strain the rice using a colander and rinse with cool water.
  3. Wash and dry the pot and return to heat, add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and a few drops of liquid saffron. With a large spatula place the rice into the pot, place a layer of rice and a layer of vegetables building it into a pyramid shape. Place the peeled garlic cloves in between rice. Make 4 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula to release the steam. 
  4. Cover and cook for 7-10 minutes on medium-high heat until rice is steaming. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil and 2-3 tablespoons of water over the rice, lower the heat, cover and steam the rice for 50 minutes on medium-low heat.With a large scoop take some rice from the top, mix in with the dissolved saffron and set aside. Serve rice on a platter; sprinkle the mixture of rice and saffron on top.

Mahi - Fish

Serves 6

6-8 pieces of white fish fillet or a fish of your choice
1 cup flour (to coat fish)
Garlic powder
A pinch of red pepper
A pinch of turmeric powder
Salt and black pepper
Vegetable oil
1 large Lime

  1. Season fish on both sides, lightly coat the fillet with flour and  shake off any excess flour.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat, place fish in the pan and fry until golden brown and crispy on both sides.
  3. Place the fried fish on a serving platter, squeeze lime juice over the fillets. 
Serve sabzi polow and mahi with fresh herbs, salad and pickles (torshi).



  1. I made this dish and it is so good!!! It smells like my grandmother's house. Thank you :)

    1. Azita could i bake the fish instead of frying? If yes what should i do differently? Thank you

    2. Mandy, Place the fish in a baking dish. In a small bowl combine lime juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and pour over the fish. Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 15-20 minutes.

  2. salam Azita Khanum,
    I have some questions regarding sabzi polow because in my hometown, virtually all of the fresh herbs needed for the recipe, especially parsley and dill, are only available in dried form, and coriander leaves and scallions are pretty scarce, my question is, if I were to make my own dried sabzi polow herb mix, what dried herbs would u suggest I should use for this recipe?
    A million thanks!

    1. Salam Gaby jan, you can use the dried parsley and dill and if you find chives or leeks that would be good as well. You can also use a little bit of dried fenugreek leaves.

    2. mamnoonam Azita khanum for the tips...will give this a try for the upcoming Shab e Yalda celebration with my Persian friends... :D
      p/s I prepared fish for the first time in my life by following your recipe for the fried fish featured in this post, and I must say that it was a very rewarding experience for me especially since the results were SPLENDID!!!
      Thank u once again n God bless u always :)

  3. Hi Thanks for sharing such a good blog about Turmeric . As it is very good for Health