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„Cooking with the Snowmads“ is our new series about Food and Recipes from all over the World.

As Van Life, Traveling and Cooking go Hand in Hand we think it’s a Topic that might be interesting for you. Let’s cook a real Iranian Classic today: Lubia Polo

As we love to travel to Iran we got to know and love the Iranian Cuisine, so we want to bring you one of our favorite recipes.
The Iranian way of cooking is pretty simple in its ingredients yet amazingly complex in its taste and so is Lubia Polo, which simply translates to „Bean Rice“. Seeing the Ingredients maybe you would think to yourself „How could this turn into something special?“ But then you take the time and passion for the process as the Iranians do and in the end you’ll be stunned of how little things you need to create an amazing tasty meal.

What you need

1 Onion

500g Green Beans (best fresh ones, but frozen ones work as well)

2 1/2 cups of rice (Persian rice is perfect for this dish if you can get hold of it, or any other good medium to long grain white rice)

1 tea spoon of tumeric powder at least 1/2 a tea spoon of bloomed saffron

500g pure tomato sauce

Potatoes (optional)

If you’re lucky enough to find a Persian market close by you can easily get your Iranian ingredients there – a couple minutes of intense Persian experience inclusive. 😉

Fabi on a market in Teheran…

How the magic happens

You begin by frying the diced onions in oil until they get some color and add the turmeric powder and the green beans. The tumeric powder is important for the final taste of the Lubia Polo so don’t be shy on using it. The beans should start to get a glassy bright green color when you add the tomato sauce, usually you will use tomato sauce from a can or glass. If its a really thick sauce, pour some water in the can or glass to get the rest of the sauce out and make the sauce more liquid. You don’t wanna make a soup, but it shouldn’t be too thick in order to not burn in your pan. You let that cook for some ten to fifteen minutes if you’re using fresh beans, if its frozen beans that reduces the cooking time to around 5 minutes. Add some salt and let the sauce sit in the pan.

Meanwhile bring some water (about 1 1/2 to double the amount of rice) to boil, add the rinsed rice and let that simmer until the rice is al dente, which means that if you take one grain of rice between your fingernails the middle of the grain should still be a little hard. The Iranians are true masters in cooking rice and one of the many secrets is simply to rinse the rice before cooking to get rid of the starch around the grains. Pour the rice and water through a sieve. After around ten minutes, depending on which rice you use pour the rice and water into a sieve.

„Thadig“ Iranian rice cooking magic

Now the stacking of the rice and the bean/tomato sauce starts, which is probably the crux in the whole process. For that you use a deep pot, pour some oil in and put it on low to medium heat. Cause now another speciality of the Iranian rice cooking magic can be achived, the so called „Tahdig“ It means that in the bottom of the pot you get a amazingly tasty crust of rice, that if you got it right once you ask yourself why you would ever cook rice without Tahdig again. Optionally before you put the rice in the oil you can put thin sliced potatos, which would make for an Potato Tahdig, but to get that right its even more difficult than a plain Rice Tahdig, we ourselves still struggle with that, so probably start with rice only. Put a layer of around 2 to 3 thumbs thick of rice into the pot, take the bean and tomato sauce and stack that on top of the rice, also 2 to 3 thumbs thick. Continue with layering until the sauce and rice is finished, the rice should be the last layer. With every layer of rice you put in pour some blossomed saffron over the rice. „Blossomed“ here means that you put the saffron in some water and let it simmer on low heat for some minutes. Saffron can be amazingly expensive in some countries, so how much you’ll use will be depending on where you live or your budget. Generally we would say the more the better. It’ll give the typical taste of Persia, as Iranians use literally tons of it.

When you ́re finished with the stacking put a cotton kitchen towel around the lid of the pot, which will help to keep the steam inside the pot, so the before „al dente“ rice will be steamed to finish. Leave the pot on a small to medium heat for some 30 minutes while not letting the steam escape by opening the lid many times, which is another secret to a perfect rice. The crux here is to get the rice finished without the Tahdig at the bottom getting burned, you’ll probably need some tries to get it right, but if you do you’ll know that it was worth it. After around 30 minutes you can open the lid and check if the rice is finished and if it is you can stir and mix the rice with the bean/tomato sauce, The rice will get a beautiful yellow and red color and the aromas of sauce, rice and saffron will have merged.

Lubia Polo traditionally is a side dish, we recommend some white bread to go with it, best coming from a wood fire oven, maybe some salad. As there are often vegetarians under us we most of the time cook without meat, if you don’t wanna dispense on meat, you can put it in the bean/tomato sauce, traditionally Iranians use lamp for their Lubia Polo.

Enjoy! And „Nush e jahn!“ -Farsi for „enjoy your meal“, which translates to „Nourish your soul“

We’re curious on your Lubia Polo experience – you’re very welcome to send us a photo or tag @snowmads on Instagram.

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Photo Credits
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