Baghalee polo is another classic Persian rice dish. Simple goodness with comforting flavors, this dish is a spring time favorite meal. Using fresh fava beans and dill, my mother always prepares this rice dish on special occasions when we have guests over. She loves gathering the beans and dill from the garden and cooking them to bring forth to the table.
Traditionally, baghalee polo is served with lamb shank that has braised for hours (lamb shanks placed in a pot of water, turmeric, onion, salt and pepper to cook until pieces of the meat fall off the bone). For those who don’t like to consume lamb, rotisserie chicken will do. Baghalee polo is also a wonderful vegetarian option that can be served with fried eggs (my dad’s personal favorite!).
Enjoy this fragrant Persian dish during these lovely spring days.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
3 cups basmati rice- rinsed under cold water
2 cups fava beans- peel outer skin and separate bean halves and cut into long quarters (creating 4 long pieces from one fava bean)
2 cups finely chopped dill- stems and leaves
½ teaspoon saffron- mixed in ¼ cup hot water; once cooled add ¼ cup canola oil
In a large pot bring to boil rice, 10 cups of cold water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring heat down to medium and stir rice and cook until almost ‘al-dente’. Immediately add dill and fava beans. Give it a good, gentle stir until rice, fava beans and herb blend and remove from heat and pour into a rice strainer (thin holes so the rice and herbs do not escape). Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
In the same pot, add ½ cup, each, water and canola oil. With a large spatula lightly spoon the rice back into the pot. Puncture 3 holes in the rice mound to allow hot air to escape from the bottom of the pot to the top. Place a large paper towel on the lid (carefully securing to not catch fire from the flames) and cover pot to capture steam. Heat rice over medium high heat for 5 minutes until you hear the rice crackling, and then reduce heat to low to cook for 50-55 minutes.
Once the rice is cooked, spoon over a large platter and don’t forget to serve the ‘tahdeeg’ (literal translation ‘bottom of the pot’) which is the most delicious crunchy part of the rice. Pour saffron mixture over the top of the rice evenly coating all areas. Using a spoon, fluff the rice in order for the saffron sections to blend into other sections of the rice.
Enjoy with either lamb, chicken or fried eggs.