my noosi’s dill herbed rice {شوید پلو} with black-eyed peas {loobia cheshm bolboli}: shevid polow


persian style dill herbed rice with blackened peasas soon as i saw the beautifully green bunches of fresh dill at the market i knew what i wanted (or almost had) to make with them. dill-herbed rice, or shevid-polow as we call it in farsi. dill is one of my absolute favorite herbs i can never resist buying when it is in season looking all fresh and darkish green and beautiful. i love the scent it creates and leaves in my kitchen as i chop it, and the slightly different aroma that surrounds me as it steams away with the basmati rice. [talking

black eyed peas and rice

about scents and aromas reminds me of a side note: this post on the lovely perfume blog kafkaesque references mine on baghali polow, another dish loaded with fresh dill]. as with most my food obsessions, i first fell in love with dill in my grandmother’s kitchen in Tehran-it seems to me she was always chopping herbs-or maybe i was so often around when she did, because i loved watching (and smelling) her doing it so much. it was the way she bunched them tightly together with one hand while gracefully slicing them ever so thinly with the other. she was a true expert with the knife. and so many other things. thinking back on it, hers was not a sophisticated kitchen with many fancy gadgets-but trust me when i tell you some serious magic happened there. and boy was i lucky to be a small part of it as taster/assistant/taster/observer/taster in chief.

finely chopped dill even though i didn’t fully realize it then, she was constantly, indirectly, and deliberately teaching me things every time i was with her.  i can hear her voice in my head: sharing, reminding, cautioning, praising, cautioning some more. one of the dishes she taught me was shevid polow layered with her favorite beans: black-eyed peas, or “cheshm bolboli” (translates to parrot eyes for obvious reasons). It is the type of absolutely delicious nourishing dish that reminds you of all good things and fills you with pure (stomach) contentment. well worth the work and the wait.

how to make shevid polow  {for 4-6}:

  • making persian rice with herbs2-2.5 cups finely chopped fresh dill (remove the thicker stalks, wash, allow dill to dry, then chop)
  • 2-3 cups basmati rice, washed several times in water until it runs clear
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dry rose petals (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron
  • 1-1.5  cups black-eyed peas, cooked (soak overnight and cook until just tender)
  • sea salt to taste (and for boiling the rice)

persian steamed rice with herbs

    1. bring a big pot (non stick) of salted water to boil (about 6-8 cups). add washed and drained basmati rice. allow it to come to a rolling boil and  keep the heat on high for about 7-9 minutes. turn off the heat and drain the rice in a mesh colander. wash with cold water and allow it to drain. also see this recipe for inspiration.
    2. add about 3-4 tbs of vegetable oil, 2-3 tsp of water and 1/2 of the ground saffron (or 4-6 saffron strands seeped in hot water) to the nonstick pan. heat together for 1-2 minutes on high. remove from heat and add a thin layer of rice, followed by a generous layer of dill and black-eyed peas (see pictures above). sprinkle evenly and lightly with cumin seeds, sea salt to taste, and cinnamon. (with your hands or a spatula) carefully combine everything together as you go.
    3. repeat this process until your ingredients are used and you have created a “dome” or pyramid of layers. top with remaining saffron and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, cumin seeds, and rose petals. drizzle with another 3-4 tbs of oil (using a slotted spatula to evenly distribute) and about 1/4 cup of water.
    4. cover the pot first with a paper towel or clean dishtowel and then tightly with the lid. Heat the pot on high for about 8-10 minutes (stay close to the pot)-this will help create the favorite crispy rice (tag-deeg) at the bottom of the pot. reduce the heat after 10 minutes (at most) to med/low and allow the rice to steam for another 45 minutes to an hour. serve with saffron braised chicken, veal or lamb shanks and a shirazi salad (tomatoes, persian cucumbers, green onions, mint, lime juice, olive oil, sea salt & pepper).

shevid polow tahdeeg


steamed eggplant and brown rice flavored with saffron & cumin

by the time i was a teenager, i had truly discovered the power of food (as in started to really appreciate eating it), and one of my favorite dishes was “bademjan polow” or eggplant-rice made by ali agha-who was an incredible cook and the kindest and dearest old man you can imagine. ali agha cooked for my friends family, and whenever i visited (which was quite often), he would shout up from the kitchen and ask us what we wanted to eat for lunch or dinner: “lalah khanoom! mina khanoom! chi mikhain bekhoreen?” he would ask* until we finally lowered the music and responded to his call (teenagers)! i remember almost always asking for bademjan polow, but getting it only once in a while when he had the ingredients and patience necessary to make it. otherwise, he often suggested hamburgers, which he called “hamboorgerd (this always made us laugh because “gerd” means “round” in farsi). today i made a  meat-less version of bademjan polow with brown rice (instead of basmati) and much less oil. the resulting dish had a different texture than the original, but tasted almost the same. i smiled thinking of ali agha and what he would have thought of it-i bet he would have laughed at me for changing up a real good thing! the original dish is essentially khoresh-e-bademjan, cut in smaller chunks, then layered and steamed with basmati rice. if you decide to try it, cut the beef and eggplants in smaller  pieces and omit the sour grapes, then layer it with par boiled basmati rice following the same general directions as this recipe for  loobia polow. otherwise, try this lighter and easier {vegetarian} version:
(ms. lalah! ms. mina! what do you want to eat?)

ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 large eggplant, cut in small cubes with the skin on (or 3-4 italian eggplants)
  • 1/4 cup finely cubed onion
  • 2 cups brown rice (makes about 4 cups cooked to just tender, still chewy~do not over cook)
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil (olive, safflower, or grapeseed)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cubed (or 1/2 cup good quality stewed tomatoes)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 small tsp ground saffron (or 2-3 strands seeped in a few drops of hot water)
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds (only if you like cumin)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional for spicy)

1. in a deep skillet heat 2 tbs oil and add the cubed onions and eggplants, allow them to cook on med/low heat while stirring often. as the eggplants soften (about 5 minutes), add the salt and turmeric and continue carefully stirring. allow the mixture to cook (or fry) more until the eggplants are fully cooked (about 10-12 minutes total). add the tomatoes, stir them in, and turn off the heat. sprinkle with saffron and stir the mixture one more time. taste and adjust the salt.

2. pour 1 tbs oil in a small deep nonstick pot, then add a layer of lightly cooked brown rice, topped by a few spoonfuls of the eggplant mixture, and a sprinkle of cumin. repeat this process creating a “dome” of layers ending with a thin layer of rice on the very top. add a touch more saffron, cumin, and rose petals (gol-e-sorkh-if you like them). see picture of the “dome” above. i don’t add water because the tomatoes typically add enough moisture for steaming-if you feel it’s necessary, add a few drops of water over the top.
3. cover the pot firmly with a lid and start steaming on high for just 5 minutes before reducing the heat to med/low and steaming for another 30 minutes. you should have a nice crusty tah-deeg (or crsipy rice) at the bottom of the pot, if not, turn up the heat for just a few minutes (keep an eye on it) prior to serving. sprinkle with red pepper flakes after serving (if you are using it).