Rice is simply the centrepiece of any meal in Iran. Shovelled out of the pan, endless tall pyramids of fluffy grains stand tall for the table. Fiery strands of saffron may appear while specks of pale green broad beans pepper another. These are the different types of popular rice dishes in Iran.
Not just for savoury cooking, rice is used as a sweet dessert in Persian cuisine, too. Sholeh zard in Farsi depicts the texture and colour of the dish. Sholeh meaning pudding-like texture and zard for yellow. The dish is welcome to many occasions in the Iranian calendar, from Sabe Yalda (Yalda Night), celebrations which take place on the longest nice of the year, and is served at the start of winter. Wonderfully delicate and light the riot of colour from the saffron runs right through the pudding, while dashes of cinnamon and silvered pistachio provide a gentle sweet layer on top.
Estambali polow is a genius combination of ingredients. Rice, beef, potatoes and tomato paste are mixed into one dish to provide a meal on its very own. It’s a heart-warming dish for a winter’s evening. The recipe can change between regions, and of course, from one family to the next. Some like to add green beans to the mix, too. This is perfect with a chilled side of mast-o khiar, yoghurt and cucumber.
This is a stunning rice dish which is served on Nowruz, Persian New Year. It is often accompanied with fried fish. Packed with aromatic herbs, such as fresh coriander, chives, dill and parsley, each mouthful is wonderfully fragrant. Spot the layers upon layers of dark and light greens flash against the bright white rice.
Morassa polow literally translates as ‘jewel’, quite fitting for one of the most colourful Iranian rice dishes. Served at weddings, the dish comes with a punch of sweet flavour. Pistachio slivers dot the plate, while almonds provide a welcome crunch and fiery red barberries ooze a seriously sour kick. This is Persian cooking at its best – mixing nuts and fruit into savoury cuisine.
Again this is a glorious mix of sweet and savoury. The sweet in question here is raisins. They are mixed with lentils, golden onions, saffron, cinnamon, turmeric and ground beef to create this well-loved dish.
Delicate, buttery broad beans are the main star of this rice dish. Cups of punchy dill are also added to give an extra hit of flavour. Coated in butter, like most rice in Iran, the soft beans become melt in the mouth. This rice dish is usually served which chicken, or can be served as a vegetarian main.