Persian New Year or Nowruz (Norooz) is celebrated every year at the spring equinox. For centuries it has not only marked the coming of spring, but it is also a time to celebrate family, new life and growth, and to cast away illness and sadness.
Just weeks ago the Persian side of my family lost one of our precious gems, my 33 year old cousin Shiva, to cancer. Shiva fought hard, her husband and family were stedfast in their love and care, and we will always miss her smiling eyes, courageous spirit, and beautiful smile.
This time last year I was in San Francisco celebrating Norooz with all my cousins. There was a celebration at the home of one of their friends, a gorgeous home outside San Francisco, and Shiva and I were catching up talking about what else… food. I do not remember how we got around to discussing baghali polo (bah-gah-lee pa-low), probably because of Norooz, but I remember her telling me it was one of her favorite dishes. Growing up in Sapulpa Oklahoma, although my father did make many Persian dishes, baghali polo wasn’t one one of them… so this was new to me. Shiva described a rice dish, of dill (I was familiar with dill rice) but that it had a mixture of lima beans or fava beans… and some other stuff she wasn’t sure about. While traditionally Sabzi Polo ( green herbed rice) and a broiled white fish are the main fair for Norooz dinner tables, Shiva told me Baghali Polo was her preferred Norooz dish.
I hadn’t really thought about that specific conversation, or baghali polo until today. The day we celebrate life, new life, and cast away illness and sorrow. I’m glad Shiva reminded me today... it was like a tickle behind the ear and a whisper that said "hey cuz... baghali polo."
So today to celebrate this beautiful woman and all that she meant to me and my family, on top of all the joy Norooz brings, I made my version of Baghali Polo. That first bite made me smile, it made me see Shiva’s beautiful beautiful face, and it will always be the dish I make on this happy day. Food truly does bring family closer. Thanks, Cuz. Eideh shoma mobarak everyone!!
4 cups of water
2 cups white basmati rice, soaked in cold water at least 30 minutes
1 pound pound fresh fava beans, shelled and peeled, or 1 pound frozen lima beans, thawed
2 tablespoons ghee or grapeseed oil
1 cup chopped scallions (green onions)
2 cups tightly packed minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon saffron, ground and steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water
3 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon In The Kitchen With Scotty “Persian Rub”
- Begin by draining off the water from the soaked rice, and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Add the 4 cups of water, few pinches of salt, and the rice to non stick with high edges pan (a coated wok works great!). Bring to boil and cook until tender. Drain off the water and rice into a large colander and set aside.
- While the rice is cooking, in a separate sauté pan, add a few tablespoons of the grapeseed oil and heat. Add the minced scallions, turmeric, and Persian Rub. cook until transparent and fragrant. Add the beans, and fresh chopped dill, and heat through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In the bottom of the rice pan and a little more grape seed oil and begin to heat. You wantjust enough oil to coat the bottom. Spoon out a bit of the white rice and place an even layer on the bottom of the rice pan. Once the dish is finished this will be a thick flavorful fried rice crust called Tah’dig. Mix (fold in) the lima bean/dill mixture into the colander of rice. Begin spooning in the mixed rice into your rice pan, and be sure to mound it up a bit in the center. Pour a little
- of the saffron and water on to the mounded rice. This adds flavor and steam.
- cover the rice pan with a kitchen towel, and place a lid on top. The towel allows for cooking pressure and to steam the rice. Cook on a low low setting for around 45 minutes.
- After cooking, and the lima beans are tender, spoon out the rice onto a platter… or of you’re feeling brave and promise me you will not burn yourself (don't blame me if you do) flip the entire rice onto a platter. If all went well your tah’dig will slide out with the rice and present a nice beautiful golden crust. Once again the easier way is to spoon out all the rice, then carefully remove the tah’dig (in as many whole pieces as you can) and place on top of the rice.
- Because it’s Norooz I chose to roast a large salmon filet to go along with the rice dish . Braised lamb shank or even chicken is good with Baghali Polo. I hope you Enjoy!
Don't forget to stop by the "SHOP" section of this website to purchase any In The Kitchen With Scotty handcrafted sauces and spice blends that you may need for this recipe. Happy Cooking, and thank-you for supporting my small business! -Scotty