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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.

March 2017

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Credit: © Con Poulos

Recipe Summary

active:
1 hr 10 mins
total:
2 hrs 30 mins
Yield:
8 to 10
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • 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. 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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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