Lubia Polo is a delicious Iranian rice dish of beef or lamb and green beans in rich tomato sauce. Make this Persian recipe for a comforting weeknight meal!
There are plenty of recipes for delicious Iranian rice dishes that you can make quickly and easily. But when you want something that serves as both a main and side dish, look no further than lubia polo.
Also known as:
Other names/spellings include loobia polo, green bean rice, and Persian ground beef rice.
Similar to a crispy tahdig rice, this Persian dish features a crispy layer at the bottom of the pot, but it’s potatoes rather than rice. Above the potatoes is a ground lamb or ground beef rice with green beans.
Finally, there’s a rich tomato sauce flavored with cinnamon, Persian spices (in the form of advieh), and saffron threads. Those flavors transform the dish into something truly special.
Components of Lubia Polo
The ingredients in the dish tend to vary by family, and it’s a versatile recipe, so adapt your ingredients to whatever you have on hand. There are three main steps to making lubia:
- Cook the rice.
Almost every Iranian rice dish is best made with a long grain white rice, and lubia polo is no exception. Basmati and Jasmine are my personal favorites. Using a short grain rice like arborio isn’t a good choice because it’s more likely to overcook and/or become sticky.
The rice can be steamed, boiled, or even microwaved; the key is to slightly undercook it. This way, when you add it to the other ingredients for the final cooking step, it won’t become mushy.
- Prepare the meat and green bean stew.
The meat for the stew is typically ground lamb or ground beef, but it can also be made with cubes of meat. If you want to make it with beef, choose a cut with a little bit of fat marbling for flavor and to prevent the meat from drying out.
Cubes of sirloin steak or chuck roast would be fantastic.
- Cook the contents together to create the tahdig.
Creating a potato tahdig is optional, but it makes for a beautiful presentation! If you want to skip the potatoes, that’s fine; just combine the cooked rice and stew in a pot for the final cooking process.
Want to see how simple this rice recipe is to make? You can watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Serving Suggestions for Lubia Polo
Typically, it's served as a main dish, but if you make the lubia without meat, it could be a great side dish with grilled lamb, chicken, or koobideh kabobs. It would be fantastic with feta lamb burgers, too!
As a main dish, it’s delicious with sides of warm lavash or simit and pickled vegetables, plus some homemade labneh. Some fresh shirazi salad would be fantastic, too. Many people like to add a dollop of Greek yogurt over the top.
Yes, the dish is definitely freezer friendly, and it would be perfect for easy meal prep during the week. Just be sure to allow the food to cool to room temperature before placing it into a freezer safe container. It will keep in the freezer for about 3 months.
Other Iranian Rice Dishes to Try
Lubia Polo (Iranian Rice Dish)
- ½ tsp saffron
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups Basmati Rice
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 potatoes sliced ½ inch thickness
Meat Green Bean Mixture
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion medium diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 lb ground beef or lamb
- 1 tsp advieh or curry powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 lb green beans fresh or frozen (cut into ½ inch pieces)
- 6 oz tomato paste
- Grind the saffron threads in the palm of your hand, or in a mortar and pestle (preferred). Mix with ¼ cup of warm water. Let sit and allow saffron to bloom and draw out as much color as possible. It should be a deep ruby red.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and stir. Place rice in a strainer or sieve and rinse with lukewarm water, swishing rice around with your fingers to get rid of excess starch. Continue to rinse until water runs clear.
- Add rice to boiling water and stir to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice begins to rise to the top and is tender but still has a slight bite to it, 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Meat and Green Beans Mixture
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions, sauté 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are golden brown.
- Add the ground beef or lamb, stir in the Advieh Persian Spice Blend (or curry powder), cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and salt. Sauté until meat is no longer pink and then add the green beans, tomato paste and half cup of water. Stir to mix thoroughly.
- Cover and cook until the green beans are almost cooked, 6 minutes.
- In the large pot used for the rice add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium high. Arrange the potato slices evenly over the bottom of the pot, do not overlap. This is your tahdig layer.
- Spoon a third of the rice over the potatoes and then pour half of the bloomed saffron water on top. Add a third of the meat bean mixture and repeat with the rest of the rice and meat mixture, making sure the rice is shaped like a cone shaped mountain. Pour remaining bloomed saffron water plus ⅓ cup water all over.
- Wrap the lid in a clean kitchen towel and place it on the pot. Turn heat to medium low and cook for 40 minutes, rotating the pot a few times for even crisping, until the rice is tender and fluffy and the tahdig is crispy and golden.
- Run a rubber spatula around the inside of the pot. Place an appropriate-sized platter over the top of the pot and quickly and confidently flip the pot over. There should be a swish sound of the release of the tahdig. Alternately, you can scoop the rice, on to a platter. Gently remove the tahdig whole or in pieces, and serve it on the side.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.