Favorite Food Fridays: Sabzi Polo
As a cultural food staple of Iran, often served at lunch during Nowruz-- the Persian New Year-- Sabzi Polo (meaning "greens with rice") is a traditional Iranian Cuisine eaten amongst friends and family. Steeped heavily in herbs and spices typical of many Iranian dishes, this fragrant arrangement of Basmati rice and greens enlivens the palette and tastes delicious with meat, fish, and vegetables, but is commonly made with white fish like mahi or halibut.
With various cooking styles that never leave out the polo (similar to rice pilaf), or the fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, cilantro, scallions, fenugreek, coriander, dill, and chives, many veteran (and non-veteran) chefs tend to add ingredients like garlic powder, lemon juice, eggs, saffron liquid, cinnamon, unsalted butter, and salt & pepper for additional taste enhancements that bring out the flavors already existent inside this aromatic dish. The blending of these integral food factors-- key in every serving of Sabzi Polo-- are frequently covered and simmered in a pan over medium heat for more than 30 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Traditionalists will cook Sabzi Polo until crispy rice layers form on the bottom of the pot; a favored part of this Iranian Cuisine that everyone enjoys eating.
A Sabzi Polo meal is the epitome of what fresh Spring and Summer flavors are supposed to taste like: light, vivid, crisp, and if you're fortunate enough to live near a Persian fish market, then buying local seafood from a shop that caters to ingredients quintessential to Persian food dishes is a smart decision that will better suit the flavor of your meal. But if you do not, need not worry-- local fish markets in your area are always stocked with the freshest seafood catches available that are just as good as seafood found in Iran.
When it comes to trying out new and exciting foods, even if you don't celebrate Nowruz, you can still enjoy the symbol of life and renewal by making your own version of this Persian favorite. Despite the difficulties that come with any rice dish, capturing the essence of Sabzi Polo on your own time will be worth the effort (and the love) that you put into every plate.