Lubia Polo is a dish with fairly modern roots in Persia, but it is my favourite rice dish. It’s not a classic Persian dish and is rarely served at formal dinners, but it’s a really tasty and attractive meal.
Although it’s taken quite a number of years to get right. The first time I made it, it was a case of ‘So would you like one lump or two with your mast-o-khiar?’ I realised much later that there was an art to cooking it so the ingredients didn’t turn all mushy. Today, I’m pleased to say my attempts are getting better – although still not perfect.
- 500g beef or lamb mince or both
- 2 onions
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 2 medium hot green chillies (optional)
- 1 large potato (optional)
- 1 1/2 lb green beans
- 2 small tins of tomato puree
- 1-2 tablespoons of advieh
- 3 tablespoons of liquid saffron
- 2 and a half cups of rice
- Vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- Salt and pepper
Chop the onion and crush the garlic. Fry in oil until golden brown. Add salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes longer. If you’re making it with mince, add the mince to the pan now and cook until brown. Fry the tomato puree with a tablespoon of oil in a small pan separately and add a dash of cinnamon.
Wash and prepare the green beans and cut in quarters or leave lengthy. Boil for 10 minutes in a separate pan until the colour changes. Add the green beans to the pan with the mince and onion and fry briefly. Add the tomato puree to the pan.
Cook the rice in water, salt and a little oil on high heat in a separate pan until it’s al dente. This roughly takes about 10 minutes. Turn out into a colander and drain. Cut the potato into rounds and then pour a little oil into the bottom of the rice pan.
Add a layer of potato to the bottom of the pan. Add the rice back into the pan and layer with the green beans and mince mixture. Poke three holes into the rice mixture and add the butter. Pour the liquid saffron over the rice and leave to cook with a tea towel wrapped around the lid of the pan.
Check the rice after half an hour. If the mixture seems to be too moist, don’t put the lid back on the pan fully. Cook for one and a half to two hours on a low heat. Serve on a large plate with mast-o-khiar.
Serve on a large plate with mast-o-khiar and prepare for a standing ovation or, at the very least, polite applause. For more Persian recipe ideas, check out this blog post here.