February 27, 2012

Reshteh Polow - Rice and Noodles: For Nowruz (Persian New Year)

There are still a few weeks left until the official start of  Nowruz (Persian New Year). Iranians and many of the neighboring countries celebrate this ancient tradition and each year welcome nature's rebirth and rejuvenation by starting the traditional khaneh tekani (spring cleaning). Khaneh tekani literally means to "shake the house" by cleaning every nook and cranny and getting the house in order from top to bottom! For instance, one can give the most overused room in the house where everybody hangs out a fresh coat of paint, clean the rugs and draperies and have the house all clean and organized in time for Persian New Year. Out with the old and in with the new!

Food is also an important part of the Nowruz celebrations and the traditional menu may vary by region and household to household. رشته پلو Reshteh polow is a delicious rice dish that can be enjoyed throughout the year, however, it is known as a New Year specialty. Reshteh (noodles) also means string and eating reshteh polow, preferably on the eve of Eid-e Nowruz, helps sar-reshteh kar dastet biad which means to grab hold of your life and destiny and to attain success in life. 

Reshteh Polow - Rice With Noodles

Serves 4-6

2 cups basmati rice
1 cup reshteh (toasted noodles), cut into small-sized pieces. Reshteh may be found in Persian/Iranian grocery stores.
1/2 teaspoon saffron powder dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water
1 large yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Butter or vegetable oil


Fried onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup black raisins
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup slivered almonds

  1. Rinse the rice with cool water a few times. Soak in 4 cups of water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and set aside for a couple of hours.
  2. In a large non-stick pot bring 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil over high heat. 
  3. Drain the soaked rice and gently pour it into the pot. Bring the water back to a boil on high heat, add the toasted noodles and boil them together for about 7 minutes. Test to see if the rice is ready. Rice should be firm in the center and soft on the outside. The noodles should also be somewhat soft yet a little firm. Then drain the rice and noodles in a fine mesh colander and rinse with cool water.
  4. Wash the pot and return to heat, add 3 tablespoons of oil or butter and 1-2 tablespoons of liquid saffron. With a large spatula place the rice into the pot, building it into a pyramid shape, sprinkling the cardamom powder and cinnamon between the layers. In order to release the steam make 3-4 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula. 
  5. Leave the uncovered pot on medium-high heat for about 7 minutes or until the steam starts to come out, pour 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 cup of water over the rice, cover, steam the rice on low heat for another 45-50 minutes.
  6. Lightly brown thinly sliced onion in 2-3 tablespoons of hot oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add raisins and dates, saute lightly for 2-3 minutes. Set aside
  7. With a large scoop take some rice out of the pot and mix in with the dissolved saffron, set aside. 
Serve reshteh polow on a platter, arrange the saffron rice on top and garnish with fried onions, raisins, dates and almonds. Reshteh polow is usually served with tender lamb shanks but if you prefer you can serve it with small meatballs or chicken.



  1. One of my favorite dishes of all time - great way to celebrate!!

  2. Lovely photos! This sounds easy enough for me to try. Do you have any recommendation for a saffron substitute?
    Thank you for your yummy blog posts!

    1. Thank you! There's no good substitute for saffron. Some people like to use turmeric instead but I wouldn't recommend it.

  3. This is wonderful!. I pinned and bookmarked this to try soon!

  4. Rice-A-Roni...lol. I will have to look for that toasted pasta.

  5. wow , thats one mouthwatering bowl of rice. Hope you have alovely day

  6. It's that time of the year again? What noodles can I use instead of reshteh?

    1. Mitinita, you can use dried whole-wheat noodles and toast them yourself.

  7. Azita- I can't wait to make this! I've never had it but heard wonderful things about it... is it from the south of Iran (Shiraz?) my father is from Shiraz and his family used to make it.

  8. Hello, I saw some of these dishes for sale in Iran, on my last trip (just got home), I wish now I had picked up a couple of them, like the fish shaped dish! I love your blog; thank you for taking the time! My son's soon-to-be-we-hope found this site, and we both love it!

  9. Turmeric gives color, but won't taste anything like saffron!

  10. What a beautiful and smart website, and the dishes look really delicious. thank you for featuring "mahally" dishes.
    I was looking for the shrimp polo that is popular in the south of Iran but really enjoyed going through your website. Keep doing what you've been doing!

  11. Great weblog, perfect recipes, beautiful photography...

  12. Hi Azita. Thanks for the lovely blog. I need to be wheat free ( total pain) so i bought thin Thai rice noodles today and am gonna have to toast them first. I wonder how that'll turn out. Do i toast them in a frying pan with oil or dry in the oven? My mom used to make reshteh polo on the first day of every month. My childhood favourite with kalle gonjishki or small meat balls! Mixed in with the raisins. Yum

    1. You can toast them in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes or you can toast them using your oven. Let me know how it turns out.