loobia {green bean} polow {rice}: the reliable crowd pleaser!

how often have i eaten-cooked-enjoyed-served-reheated-savored-relied upon-dreamed of (you get the picture) loobia polow in my life? too many to count. i’m not alone in this-once you’ve had loobia polow, you will always go back for more-you will crave it, dream of it when you are really hungry, and enjoy it (along with the wonderful tah-deeg or crusty rice) each and every time. it can be easily  made vegetarian by leaving the beef out and adding extra chopped tomatoes. some people enjoy it with yogurt or pickled vegetables(torshi) on the side, but i can’t have mine without a good salad shirazi. loobia polow is the reliable dish you go to when you have to feed a crowd and would like to please them all {or most}.
ingredients for 6-8 servings:

  • about 2 pounds cut organic green beans (can be frozen)
  • 1 pound organic stew beef, cut in small cubes (size of a sugar cube)
  • 1 medium onion, diced-( or 2-3 tbs “piaz dagh” or fried onions)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cups long grain basmati rice (or brown basmati rice)
  • sea salt, cracked pepper
  • kosher salt for boiling rice
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 tbs good tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup  tomato puree or stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp “advieh”: combine toasted cumin, cinnamon, crushed rose petals (rose buds)
  • about 6 tbs vegetable oil (safflower or grape seed)
  • 2 tsp saffron strands (or finely ground saffron)

for the mixture: cut the beef in cubes, add to a heavy pot with thinly sliced onions, 1 tbs oil, sea salt & cracked pepper, 1-2 tsp cinnamon, and 2 tsp turmeric. sautee for 4-5 minutes, then add 1/2 cup water, cover and simmer for about an hour on medium to low heat.

heat 1-2 tbp oil in a sautee pan, add the cut green beans, and sautee on medium for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. when the beef is almost cooked and softened (after about 30 minutes), and most of the liquid absorbed, add the tomato paste and puree, stir in completely and allow it to simmer for another 15-30 minutes. turn off the heat and add the beans and 1 tsp saffron. combine well, taste for and adjust salt, set aside.

for the rice:

1. boil about 8 cups of water with 2 tbs kosher salt. clean and wash your rice about 4-5 times until the water is clear then add to the boiling water. now the tricky part-keep a close eye on the rice while it boils briskly (on high) for about 6-10 minutes, and gently stir a few times (not too much). 2. when the rice looks like it has softened (at about 7 minutes), drain it in a large fine mesh colander. rinse with warm water.
3. heat  2 tbs oil in a deep heavy pot, add a teaspoon or two of saffron water (diluted), then start with a layer of the rice at the bottom, followed by 3-4 spoonfuls of the mixture (carefully combine slightly with the rice), a sprinkle of the “advieh”, and then another layer of rice.
4. keep layering in the same order until you have created a rounded pyramid and your ingredients are finished. sprinkle the top with another teaspoon of saffron (or saffron water), pour 1/4 cup water and the remaining oil (i use a slotted spatula to evenly distribute) over the top.
5. cover the top of the pot with a clean dish towel (or you can use paper towels) , then place the lid firmly on. cook on medium high for about 10 minutes *(don’t move away from the pot or you’ll forget-set a timer if you have to)*-then reduce heat to medium/low and cook for 50-60 minutes more without lifting the lid (lets the steam escape).

to serve: when serving the rice let the pot rest for a (2-3) few minutes, then remove the very top saffron(y) rice and set aside. serve the rest of the rice carefully (do not crush the rice) in the platter, top with the saffron flavored rice you had set aside. without scraping the bottom of your pot, remove the crispy rice {aka BEST PART or tah deeg} and serve in a separate dish. dont forget the salad shirazi!

salad shirazi components: persian cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, lemons & limes, fresh herbs
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