I love Persian/Iranian food, I used to make it all the time but have sadly fallen out of practice on many dishes that were staples in my kitchen repertoire. Loobiya (green bean) Pollo (rice) was one of them that I made frequently years ago, I actually forgot how to make it and didn’t have my original recipe, it was somehow lost. Thanks to great blogs like Fig and Quince and Fae’s Twist and Tango I have been able to piece together and actually remember many dishes and how I made them. It’s kind of like riding a bike, you never really forget, it is in the recesses of your mind. Azita from Fig and Quince gave me her recipe for Loobiya Pollo and after reading it, the memories started flooding back.
Loobiya Pollo is very simple, you make a stew using meat (beef or lamb or even chicken) that is braised in a tomato based sauce spiced with turmeric, cinnamon and saffron, you add caramelized onions and green beans and let it cook together slowly. The stew is layered with basmati rice and steamed. It’s absolutely delicious. One of the best parts of the dish is the Tahdig, crunchy rice that forms at the bottom of the pot. The rice mixed with the rich tomato sauce is so wonderful.
I have to confess I don’t really follow a recipe exactly and don’t really measure when I make these dishes. I season to taste, eyeball consistency so results may vary. I will try my best to approximate the amounts for you though. I like to serve this dish with crisp cucumber strips and plain yogurt mixed with dried mint, diced cucumber and a little lemon.
I always make this with meat but it translates beautifully into a vegetarian or even vegan dish, simply omit the meat, you can add different vegetables and layer and steam with the rice.
Serves 4-6 depending on serving size
For the stew:
1.5 lb stew meat (lamb or beef)
1 yellow onion chopped (divided, reserve a small amount to saute with green beans)
approximately 4 oz tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
2 whole fresh ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped
3/4 lb green beans, stem end removed, blanched and cut into bite size pieces
turmeric (approximately 1/2 tsp)
cinnamon (approximately 1/4 heaping tsp)
saffron (a pinch)
salt and pepper to taste
Approximately 2 cups basmati rice
oil for pot
pinch of saffron (in 2 tbs water)
1 tbs of butter (I like to use salted butter)
Heat a saute pan coated with oil (I used olive oil) on med/high and add the onions, saute until soft and caramelized (takes 15-20 minutes) remove from pan and set aside. Add a little more oil and add the meat, sprinkle with salt, pepper and turmeric, sear the meat until browned, remove from pan and set aside. Add the tomato paste to the same pan, stir frequently and caramelize, add the onion and meat to the pan with the tomato paste, now add the tomato sauce and chopped fresh tomato, add the cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer on medium heat. It will take at least an hour and a half for the stew to cook and the meat to become tender. Check frequently you may need to add a little water if it looks like the stew has cooked down too much, stir occasionally. Taste as it cooks and adjust seasoning, I found that I needed to add a dash more cinnamon to get the flavor just right.
While this is cooking start preparing your rice. Rinse rice with cold water until the water comes out clear. Add the rice to a bowl, cover in cold water and add salt (approx 2 tsp) let rice sit in the salted water until you are ready to boil.
Heat saute pan with a little oil, add the reserved raw onions and saute until soft, add the green beans and a pinch of turmeric and a little salt and pepper and cook for approximately 2 minutes just until the green beans are lightly sauteed. Set aside.
When meat is tender but needs another 30 minutes or so add the green beans and finish cooking add a pinch of saffron, stir to combine.
Put large pot of water on to boil, add about a tbs of salt. When water is a full rolling boil, drain the rice that has been sitting in the water and add to the pot. Stir to separate each grain and let par cook, this takes about 10-12 minutes, the rice will be hard in the center of the grain. Drain into sieve and rinse with cool water. While rice is draining, put your pot back on the stove, dry it and add a little oil to the bottom of the pot, let it heat on med/high heat until good and hot. Add enough of the rice to cover the bottom of the pot about 1 inch thick, now add a thin layer of the stew spread evenly on the rice, now you will layer, add some rice topped with stew, you will end with plain rice, add 1 tbs butter and drizzle with the saffron water. Cover the pot with tea towel or paper towel and place cover on pot so that it is a tight fit. Turn heat up to high for 5 minutes so steam will build up in the pot then lower to medium and let it steam undisturbed for 45-60 minutes depending on how much rice you have made. Don’t open it while it’s steaming but keep your nose at attention, if you smell it burning remove from heat immediately.
To remove from pot and serve:
I like to use a non stick pot to make my rice, the tahdig can stick to the bottom of the pot and having a non stick surface makes it easy to get out in one piece. When the rice is finished cooking put a couple of inches of cold water in your sink and place the pot in the water, let sit for about 30 seconds.
Place serving dish over the pot and invert. The rice should come out in one piece (looking like a cake). The tahdig (bottom of the pot) should be nicely browned and crisp) it’s so delicious and underneath is tender totally separate rice. Serve hot.
An example of how rice will look when it comes out of the pot, this is not the loobiya dish but a plain basmati rice with tahdig, I didn’t get a picture of the loobiya pollo.
Oh, that looks good!
Thanks so much!
I love Persian food too and can’t wait to try this fish! Your tahdig looks perfect, which I understand is the mark of excrllence of a Persian cook! How did you learn to cook Persian food?
Thank you, I learned from a Persian friend of mine years ago. I tried the food and fell in love and had to learn how to cook it.
I meant dish 🙂
Interesting rice dish, maybe try it next time when I remember it. thanks!
Thank you, it’s really delicious. I hope you like it if you give it a try.
Mmmm’ looks delicious, wish I was there with you now to enjoy a little taste.
Thank you, I really love Persian food and this is one of my favorites. I had forgotten about it until recently and so glad Azita gave me the recipe.
Stunning! I want to learn more about these cuisines, so will check out the links you offered. So much to learn. Thanks for the intro 🙂
Thanks Liz, love both Azita’s and Fae’s blogs. They are both beautifully done with some fantastic recipes.
Yes, please. I’m just going to pop over for some!
– If only I could I would. Sounds amazing. Really will have to try this extraordinary method of cooking rice one of these days.
Would love it if you could pop over, as a matter of fact I would love to cook with you one day!! The Persian way of making rice is the best, perfect results every time. Love it!! Thanks Johnny!
I love anything with saffron. This sounds delicious!
Thank you, me too!!
My Israeli mother-in-law made a similar dish. She used beef stew meat, and I have wonderful memories of her crispy rice crust, which she served with several other dishes as well.
Yes, that is exactly what I do, I use beef stew meat. It’s delicious, that crispy rice crust is the best. Thanks Bevi.
I bet that rice is delicious – I’ve never double cooked rice like that before!
Double cooking the rice is the best, each grain is separate and perfectly done, not over cooked or mushy. I love it, thank you so much!
Thanks for introducing me to a new dish 😀
You are so welcome, you must try it with assorted vegetables, would be fab with eggplant too or zucchini, throw in a few potatoes. Thank you.
This looks so good – I love the combination of flavours in the ingredients. Now I just wish someone would make it for me… 😉
Thank you, if you lived near I would bring you some, but none for the coyotes!
Never had Persian food Suzanne, but the flavors have me salivating. I can just imagine the smells coming out of your kitchen. I love that it is totally veganizable…haha, is that even a word?! I would use zucchini and carrots and red potatoes…yum. I’ll need to give this a try 🙂
Persian food is wonderful and can be so easily veganizable (lol) if it’s not a word it should be. Thanks Brandi and I hope you give a try,
I am glad Azita helped you get your recipe back! Yum!
Me too, thanks so much!
This looks so delicious Suzanne. I am a huge Persian and Middle Eastern food addict… I’ve never made this dish but I seriously want to now! Thanks hon. Yum! xx
I am too, it’s probably my favorite next to Mediterranean foods. Thanks so much Laura.
Thanks you have inspired me try my hand at making a Persian dish sometime this winter. When I lived in London I worked with an Iranian and I can still remember (alto sadly not its name) a delicious dish she cooked when she invited some of us over to her place for dinner.
Thank you, I love the simplicity of Persian food, it’s not overly spicy or fussy. The flavors of the fresh ingredients shine. Making stews in advance is great also, they freeze well. Thanks so much.
oh boy i need it right now
I know I wish it weren’t gone. Thanks so much.
I like your pretty presentation of Iranian food. We usually plate 10 times that for one serving. This looks very pretty and tasty Suzanne. Mmmm Im hungry now!
Yes, I eat at least twice as much on my plate but went for dainty for the photo, Thanks so much.
This looks so fantastic! Yum!
Thank you very much!
I had the same experience with a chicken recipe too! I’m trying to piece it back together (cannot find it anywhere on the internet) and will post it when I get it perfect. Yes, funny how you forget to make a dish for a while, then it completely disappears and it is forgotten for years! So glad you remembered how to make yours! The tahdig looks amazing!
It’s weird, because for years I made some of these recipes almost weekly but it totally left me, it only took seeing the recipe from someone else and it came back, and making it the taste came back to me also. Thanks so much Christina!
What fun Suzanne! I’ve never ever had Persian food– you are opening up our horizons! thanks.
Thanks Rhonda, Persian is one of my favorites types of food. I hope you get a chance to try it, its delicious.
Well I have never heard of this, seen similar things but nothing quite like this one. It looks delicious and I will add it my (long) list of things I must try!
Thanks Anna, it’s really good and I have the same LONG list, I wish I had more time to get around to everything I want to make.
Suzanne, the tahdig looks amazing! I want some now!
Thank you, it really is so good. If you lived close you would be welcome to get some.
tahdig- having asked you for tips, just checked through your recipe, – my tahdig ALWAYs sticks to the bottom of the pan, have tried using le creuset, and have contemplated getting earthenware pots and putting them in the oven hoping it wouldnt stick there, but then it probably also wont get crunchy. Do you have a pot brand you recommend?
I use the same pot every time I make it its a bodem non stick pot, has a tight fitting lid and is the perfect size for rice. It comes out clean every time and the bodem pots last forever, mine barely have a scratch and are over 10 years old. Yes I think le creuset are too thick and the crust would tend to be soggy although I have never tried making in one,
wonderful – the tight fitting lid is really important as well, putting the tea towel on there and trying to make sure no steam escapes hasnt been easy either. I will see where to source a Bodem pot – no scratch after 10 years, sounds like a good pot! Thank you very much
So sorry it’s not bodum, I do this every time its Berndes, it’s a Swiss company and their non stick pots are the best, I have two pieces a large covered skilled and the rice pot.
Berndes – even better, I am Switzerland based, so NO problem sourcing it, brillant.THANKS so much for checking!
I really love the berndes pots. Reasonably priced and very good quality.
– Of course I knew you were quite familiar with the Persian cuisine and that your are a great cook. But I think this is the first post I saw of your Persian creations. GREAT JOB, Suzanne! It looks perfect! Lubia-polo is on the top of the list of favorites of Iranians, is a little on a tricky side to make it perfect each time (without the right timing of the rice, rice tends to get soggy). Serving with yogurt is brilliant.
– Thank you for the mention. 😀 Fae.
Thank you, yes I have had my share of misses, e.g soggy soggy rice with the loobia dish. I found that really only barely par boiling the rice helps to ensure that it doesn’t over cook. I have also found the tahdig burns easier so have to watch it. It really is a matter of timing and for me hit or miss sometimes. That said it’s one of my very favorites. Thank you again, you are an inspiration as is Azita.
How did I miss this post? … anyway, psyched you made it and your description of the tomato tadig had me drooling as I told you. Your love of Persian food is just one of the things I love about you!
Thank you, it really was so delicious, you know how much I love Persian food, it’s just the best, nuf said!!
I too love Persian cuisine. This dish looks fabulous Suzanne! I just love rice dishes. I just might have to give this one a try soon.
I could eat rice dishes over pasta which say’s a lot being Italian. Thanks so much.
ciao! persian food is just so delicious.
Thank you very much! It sure is.
Wow Suzanne…this is absolutely incredible! I really want to give this a try. Having never cooked anything like this before it would be a great challenge. The rice has me stunned.
I think I can almost guarantee you will love it, it is so good. The rice is amazing. Thanks so much.
I absolutely adore Persian food and this looks authentic and divine. I love rice in any shape or form and this looks particularly irresistible 🙂
Me too, the food varies region to region and this is how I was taught by my friend who is from Tehran. It really is irresistible! Thank you.
I just love rediscovering old forgotten recipes! Your dish looks wonderful…wouldn’t mind coming over for lunch 🙂
I do too, it is like becoming re-acquainted with an old friend. It was so delicious. Wish you could come for lunch!
What an easy and tasty sounding dish!
Thanks Kenley, it is easy and really tasty!
The flavors here sounds divine!
Thank you, it’s a really delicious combination of flavors.
Oh wow, I can just imagine the taste of the layers of flavor in this! I imagine this works well to make a big batch and reheat? Do you know if it freezes well?
Thanks Lori, yes it’s great and I always made a big batch and it made delicious leftovers, I also always made extra of the stew to add when reheating because it gets a bit dry, still good but a little on the dry side. Thanks again.
Great idea about the extra stew and reheating. Thanks Suzanne!
Hiiii! I thought I lost you 🙂 I would love if you still wanted to do a guest post or do regular guest post!
Hi Tamara, yes would love to do a guest post!! will email you. Thanks so much.
Oh, I adore Persian food and this dish sounds divine! So glad you were able to recreate the recipe. With fall on its way, I’m looking forward to flavorful stews such as this one.
I hope you give it a try, it’s delicious. I had forgotten just how good it is. Thanks so much.
YESSSS looovee Persian food. I definitely need to invest in saffron. You’ve convinced me. Looks fantastic!
Oh me too!! Thank you, it’s really good, I know you will love it. Thank you so much.
Wow, this dish sounds so intriguing! I’ve never heard of it before and it sounds delicious. I’ll definitely have to give it a try.