Make this sabzi polo recipe for a beautiful Persian rice tahdig side dish. Tender herbed rice with a crispy flatbread crust. So good!
Tahdig is a popular rice dish in Persian cuisine, often served as part of the meal for the New Year’s celebration.
There are several types of tahdig crust, including the rice itself, potatoes, or bread. Persian crispy rice has a tahdig made of rice.
This sabzi polo recipe features a tahdig of lavash (Armenian flatbread) over tender rice mixed with fresh herbs.
Cuisine: Iranian (Persian) / Middle Eastern
The Farsi word sabzi loosely translates in English to mean vegetables or herbs, and the Farsi word polo means rice.
No pot of polo is complete without a tahdig, the crisp crust whose name means “bottom of the pot.”
sabzi polo, sabzi polow
Difficulty: Medium 🥄🥄
Tender basmati rice and fresh herbs cooked in a pot over a flatbread crust. To serve, the dish is inverted, so the bread tahdig sits on top of the rice.
- Fresh herbs
For this herbed rice recipe, there are no designated herbs that must be used. This makes the sabzi polo very adaptable! Just use whatever fresh herbs are in season or what you like the most.
I typically use flat leaf parsley, cilantro leaves, dill with the stems removed, and chives.
- White rice
Traditionally, sabzi polo is made with long grain basmati rice. You don’t want to use a short grain variety because the rice will become too sticky.
If you’d like to substitute a long grain brown rice, that will work, but you will need to use more cooking water, and increase the cook time accordingly.
For a Persian tahdig with bread, I prefer the flavor and texture of lavash, but any flatbread will work. You could even use a burrito size flour tortilla if you’d like.
Sabzi polo recipe tips
- Chop the herbs.
The first step in making this sabzi polo recipe is finely chopping fresh herbs for the herbed rice. You want them very finely chopped, but not so much that they begin to form a paste.
To avoid bruising them, it’s best to use a sharp knife to chop the herbs. However, a food processor can be used if you are careful not to over process them. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may even want to do this in batches.
- Rinse the rice.
Put the rice into a fine mesh strainer and run tap water over it until the water runs clear. This removes some of the starch, helping to prevent the herb rice from being sticky or clumpy.
- Slice the bread before cooking.
After testing several times, I find the easiest way to serve this Persian tahdig is by slicing the bread before placing it into the bottom of the pot.
Otherwise, as you slice into the bread tahdig on the sabzi polo, the rice will squish out from the sides.
How to invert a tahdig for serving
If you’ve made a pineapple upside down cake or flan, you know that inverting dishes for presentation requires a bit of confidence. The same is true of sabzi polo.
Keep in mind that the pot will be hot, so use hot pads or oven mitts to prevent burns.
- Run a rubber spatula around the inside of the pot to release any food that’s sticking to the sides.
- Place an appropriate-sized serving platter over the top of the pot. Quickly and confidently, flip the pot over. There will be a swishing sound as the tahdig releases.
Alternatively, use a large spoon and scoop the rice onto a platter.
- Gently remove the tahdig whole or in pieces, and serve it on the side or over the top of the rice.
I hope you enjoy this fantastic herbed rice dish!
Sabzi Polo Recipe (Persian Herb Rice)
- Chop fine equal parts flat leaf parsley, cilantro, dill and chives. Set aside.
- Rinse the rice with cold water until it runs clear using a sieve. Drain and set aside.
- Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil and add the rice. Cook for 12 minutes and then drain again using a sieve. Mix the rice and herbs together in a bowl.
- To the same pot add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Place a large piece of lavash bread or burrito size flour tortilla (See Note 2) in the bottom of the pot.
- Top the bread with the herb rice and then the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a few holes in the rice, without hitting the tahdig layer (bread). This allows the steam to escape. Cover and over low heat steam for 20 minutes.
- Run a rubber spatula around the inside of the pot to release any food that's sticking to the sides.Place an appropriate-sized serving platter over the top of the pot. Quickly and confidently, flip the pot over. There will be a swishing sound as the tahdig releases. Alternatively, use a large spoon and scoop the rice onto a platter.Gently remove the tahdig whole or in pieces, and serve it on the side or over the top of the rice.
- I prefer to use flat leaf parsley and cilantro leaves, dill with stems removed and chives chopped fine.
- I have found it easier to display after turning the rice over with the bread already cut (See pictures). Cut the lavash or tortilla into 6 triangles and place on the bottom of the pot.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.