Skip to content

Sabzi Polo:
Persian Herbed Rice

Sabzi Polo: Persian Herbed Rice

Sabzi polo is made with basmati rice and layers of fresh herbs, but what is most coveted is the tahdig — the crunchy rice that forms on the bottom of the pot during cooking. This rice pairs well with chicken and fish, or even a fried egg.


Brewed Saffron
• A Tablespoon of lightly packed saffron threads
• 1 cup 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 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 a the saffron. In a heatproof jar, mix the finely ground saffron with a cup of boiling water. Let stand until cool, then refrigerate for up to 1 week.

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.

2. Fill a 5-quart, nonstick pot 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 pot. 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 lid with a kitchen towel, Cook over moderately low heat until the rice is tender and very fragrant, about 45 minutes.

6. Remove the kitchen towel. 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.