Sabzi Polo (Herbed Rice)

Prep Time:


Yields 6 to 8 or even 10 (4 to 6 for Persians J)


  • Basmati Rice – 4 cups (uncooked)
  • Parsley – 2 cups minced (equivalent to 1 big bunch)
  • Cilantro – 2 cups minced (equivalent to 1 big bunch)
  • Persian Chives (or scallions or Chinese chives) 2 cups minced (equivalent to 1 big bunch)
  • Dill – 1 cup minced (equivalent to 1/2 big bunch)
  • Salt – 1/8 cup (for soaking the rice and bit for cooking)
  • Saffron – finely ground (few threads) 1 ice cube or couple of tablespoons of hot water
  • Potato/or Pita bread or just the rice itself – 1 small/to medium (depending on pot size) cut thinly in rounds
  • Cooking oil (I like grapeseed oil) – 2/3 table spoons
  • Butter – ¼ cup


  1. First rinse the rice a few times to wash the starch off until it runs clear. Soak rice in cold water with some of the salt (Best to soak rice overnight or at least few hours before – however not a must)
  2. Brown onions in grapeseed (cooking oil)
  3. Add turmeric/salt/pepper and mix it in cook a couple of minutes
      • Add in the chopped beans and mix all and cook
      • Add chopped tomato and cook a few more minutes
      • Add tomato paste and 1/8 cup of hot water (best to dissolve the tomato paste in the hot water)
      • Lower and simmer
      • Near the end add some of infused saffron into the mix
      • We want to get to a thick gravy consistency (not runny – something like a thick chili)
  4. Boil 4 cups of water and add remaining salt
  5. Drained soaking rice and add the rice in to the boiling water
  6. Cook on medium high heat until rice is half cooked bit before al dente (this is the trickiest part – dependent on type of basmati (age, quality, experience of the cook)
  7. Once the rice reaches the optimum point drain the rice in a colander and rinse with cold water
  8. Put the pot back on the low/med heat – heat butter and lay the sliced potatoes/pita bread or some of the rice in a thin layer on the bottom
  9. Then we are ready for layering rice and herbs
      • Put some rice in the pot over top of the bottom pita/potatoes, then spoon over mixture of herbs; repeat with rice and herb. Once all rice and mix is used we cut up butter into pieces or chunks and lay on top of rice.
  10. Use a clean cotton kitchen towel or paper towel over the pot and put the lid on.
  11. Simmer on low/med heat (depends on the size of the pot) bigger the pot higher the heat but never more than low-medium and dependent on heating source. On my electric glass stove, top I cook my rice on 2.5 for a medium size pot.
      • Another factor is the type of pot – for stainless or copper pots lower heat even more as they heat up faster/none stick is a bit more forgiving

12. Simmer rice for 30 to 40 min (when the rice steams it is most likely done).

13. Once steamed (you can slowly carefully check the lid and if the rice has steamed and the cloth is moist) take lid off and spoon the rice and mix onto a platter until we get to the bottom. Once at the bottom we reach our prized (Tah-Dig) meaning bottom of the pot. The tah-dig should be golden/orange and crispy.

14. The rice if cooked in a nonstick pot can also be flipped over onto a platter like a Bundt cake.

Special Notes:

  • Sabzi polo (Herbed rice) is traditionally served with white Fish for the Persian New Year dinner and any other time one has a craving for. It is also good with roasted chicken. Also, delicious long side of salad or a bowl of plain yogurt.
  • For the Tah-dig (crispy bottom) instead of the potatoes pita bread or rice can be used.
  • Final rice dish is best served when grains are fluffy and cooked but not mushy nor ala dent.
  • Saffron: The most effective way to draw the flavor and color out of saffron is to submerge them in a hot liquid, so you want to soak them thoroughly before adding them to your recipe. In most cases, letting it sit in the liquid for 10 to 20 minutesis enough to prepare the saffron.


Note: alternatively, you can use dried herbs mixed especially for Sabzi Polo – found in middle eastern grocery stores. Sabzi Polo Herbs