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Loobya Polo (pronounced “loobyaw polow”, from Persian: green bean rice) used to be my favourite Persian dish, but I realized that the Persian cuisine has too many good recipes to tie oneself down to one favourite dish.

It will take a bit of your time to prepare this amazing dish, so plan ahead. The best part of it is probably the potato tahdig (pronounced “tah-deeg”, from persian: bottom of the pan), the crunchy potatoes every Persian would be willing to die for.

Serves 4

  • 350 g green beans
  • 200 g basmati rice (Reyhani*) (1 cup)
  • 50 g granulated soy (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable soup powder or 1/2 vegetable soup cube
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 400 g canned, chopped tomatoes (13 oz)
  • 1 potato
  • salt and pepper
Serve with “mast o chiar”.

Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water is clear. Soak it in a bowl with water for about two hours. If you’re reading this recipe and actually planned to start to cook right now, don’t worry. Soak the rice until you will need it. Cook the green beans, for about 20 minutes. Drain them and set aside.

Put the granulated soy into a bowl, sprinkle with vegetable soup powder or cube and pour on 150 ml (3/4 cup) hot water. Set aside.

Meanwhile cube the onion. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions, turmeric and cinnamon. Fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the granulated soy (it should have absorbed the water – if it hasn’t, pour the water away) and fry for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soy colours lightly.

Add the canned tomatoes and green beans and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, covered.

Meanwhile cook the rice. (It’s probably not how you’re used to cook rice.) Place a pot with water on the fire and bring to a boil. Put the rice and 1 tsp. of salt in it and cook for 6 minutes on medium-high heat. Drain and set aside.

Wash the potatoes and slice them, about 0,5 cm thick. In a non-sticking pan, heat some olive oil and cover the bottom of the pan with potato slices. Now comes the fun part: Place one layer of rice on the potatoes, alternating with tomato sauce. Rice. Tomato Sauce. Rice. Tomato Sauce. Sprinkle each layer with cinnamon powder. When everything is used up, cover the pan and let it cook for about 40 minutes on low heat. When you uncover the pan, make sure you don’t let any water from the pan lid go into the rice, otherwise the crunchy “tahdig” will get soft. Finally, flip the pan over a large tray and serve with the cucumber yoghurt.