Sabzi Polo (Herbed Rice)


Sabzi polo is a staple on the Persian New Year's table. It's made with basmati rice and layers of fresh herbs, but what is most coveted is the tahdig — the crunchy crust that forms on the bottom of the pot during cooking.

Herbed Rice (Sabzi Polo)
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins
8 to 10 servings


Brewed Saffron

  • 1 tablespoon lightly packed saffron threads

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water

Herbed Rice

  • 2 cups basmati rice

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 1/2 cups minced cilantro

  • 2 1/2 cups minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 cups minced chives or scallions

  • 1 cup minced fresh dill

  • 1/4 cup minced garlic

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 3 tablespoons whole-milk yogurt

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1/4 cup brewed saffron, plus more for drizzling

  • 1/4 cup boiling water

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced


Make the Brewed Saffron

  1. In a mortar, using a pestle, finely grind the saffron. In a heatproof jar, mix the finely ground saffron with the boiling water. Let stand until cool, then refrigerate for up to 1 week. This makes 1 1/2 cups; reserve remaining for another use.

Make the Herbed Rice

  1. In a large bowl, cover the rice with cold water. Using your hand, agitate the rice to release the starch, then carefully pour off the water. Rinse the rice 5 to 7 more times, until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with water, add 2 teaspoons of salt, and let soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

  2. Fill a 5-quart, nonstick Dutch oven half full with water, bring to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the rice and boil over high heat until it is al dente and just starts to soften; this can take from 3 to 8 minutes, depending on your rice (do not overcook it). Let stand for 2 minutes, then drain well. Wipe out the pot.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix the cilantro, parsley, chives, and dill with the garlic. Put the oil in the bottom of the Dutch oven. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt with the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of the brewed saffron and drizzle over the oil in the pot.

  4. Gently scatter one-quarter of the rice into the pot (you want it to stay fluffy) and season with salt. Sprinkle with one-third of the herb mixture. Repeat the layering with the remaining rice and herb mixture, ending with a layer of rice.

  5. Cover the pot and set it over moderately high heat until it starts to steam, about 5 minutes. Uncover the rice and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brewed saffron and 1/4 cup of boiling water. Scatter the butter slices on top. Cover the pot with parchment paper, then cover tightly with the lid. Cook on a heat diffuser (if you have one) over moderately low heat until the rice is tender and very fragrant, about 45 minutes.

  6. Discard the parchment. Carefully invert the rice onto a large platter. Using a spoon or spatula, crack the crust (tahdig) and spread the pieces apart. Drizzle the rice with a little brewed saffron and serve warm.

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