Persian Food's Love of Basmati Rice: The Five Most Popular Persian Rice Dishes

Persian food has a lot to be proud of. On one hand, the cuisine offers an incredible array of stews, from ghormeh sabzi to fesenjan to gheymeh, just to name a few. These Persian stews range in flavor from savory to sour to sweet, and there are over twenty different stews to choose from! Additionally, Persian food consists of delicious kabobs, from koobideh to barg to joojeh. These kabobs are often what people most closely associate Persian food with. In addition to these incredible Persian stews and kabobs, Persian cuisine would not be what it is if not for the incredible varieties of different rice dishes. While all these dishes use basmati rice as their base, their inclusions vary tremendously from dish to dish. Some Persian rice dishes include carrots and beans while others use lentils, while some even use sour cherries! The number of varieties of Persian rice dishes is truly incredible! These Persian rice dishes can be enjoyed on their own, or can be paired with a Persian stew or kabob. They’re delicious either way.

Despite the tremendous variety of Persian rice dishes, one thing remains consistent: the thin layer of crispy basmati rice that forms at the bottom of the pot, also known as tadig. If you prepare your pot of rice correctly, you can always count on this crispy layer of rice being at the bottom, regardless of the type of Persian rice dish you are preparing. As such, you can have a plain, white basmati rice tadig if you’re just making a pot of saffron-infused white, basmati rice; you can have a sabzi polo tadig if you’re making an herb-filled Persian rice dish; you can even have a barberry-filled tadig when making the traditional Persian rice dish known as zereshk polo. The type of tadig that is outputted depends on the type of rice dish that you’re making.

Given how central these basmati rice dishes are to Persian cuisine, we thought we’d spend some time looking at the Top 5 Persian Rice Dishes. We’ve already spent time looking at the Top 5 Persian Drinks and the Top 5 Persian Desserts. It’s about time we turned our attention to the magic of Persian basmati rice dishes.

Number 1: Sabzi Polo

Whether you’re enjoying sabzi polo as part of your Persian New Year Nowruz celebration, or as the main course on a Tuesday night dinner, you really can’t go wrong. Sabzi polo is a Persian classic, consisting of a plain white basmati rice base mixed with an array of different Middle Eastern herbs. The rice in sabzi polo contains cilantro, parsley, chives and dill. It’s luscious green color is paired with a delicious smell. During Persian New Year, sabzi polo is served alongside white fish in the traditional dish known as “sabzi polo bah mahi,” but it eats deliciously on its own or paired with Persian kabob.

Sabzi Polo

Number 2: Havij Polo

Havij polo is another Persian rice classic. As with all Persian rice dishes, it starts with a plain white basmati rice base, but the central ingredient in this dish is carrots. And no ordinary carrots. Sugared carrots that are sweetened after being left to soak in sugar for quite some time. Additionally, while carrots are often characterized by their crunchiness, the carrots that are found in havij polo are actually soft, as they’ve been left to cook over a prolonged period of time. In addition to the carrots in this dish, you can also find beans. Most people cook their havij polo with either red or green beans.

Havij Polo

Number 3: Adas Polo

Adas polo is a Persian rice favorite, and is one of the simpler ones to make. Consisting of basmati rice, lentils and saffron, it’s filling, nutritious and delicious. Some individuals like to add either raisins or dates to their rendition of adas polo, but it’s all a matter of personal preference. Whether you’re new to Persian food or were raised eating it, adas polo is always a great go-to option to satisfy your craving.

Adas Polo

Number 4: Shirin Polo

If adas polo were on one side of the difficulty spectrum, shirin polo is on the opposite side, as it is one of the most difficult Persian rice dishes to make. Shirin polo is a Persian rice dish traditionally served during celebrations and parties, as it consists of a ton of unique ingredients, including saffron, rose water, citrus peels, carrots, and pistachios, just to name a few. Some individuals also choose to include raisins as part of the dish - all a matter of personal preference. It is a dish that dates back all the way to the 16th century, and one which has continued to be emblematic of Persian food’s uniqueness!

Shirin Polo

Number 5: Albaloo Polo

Albaloo polo is one of the most unique Persian rice dishes. While a white basmati rice makes up its base, its color is anything but white. Instead, the rice shows off beautiful red and orange colors, thanks in large part to the Persian sour cherries and saffron that infuse the rice. Persian sour cherries, or morello cherries, are an ingredient repeatedly found in Persian cuisine, and their inclusion in albaloo polo is one of their best use cases. While other Persian rices are on the more savory side, albaloo polo is one of the few that is on the sweet and sour side. For added crunch, some individuals even add pistachio to their version of albaloo polo. 

Albaloo Polo

This list of the top five Persian rice dishes is by no means comprehensive of what this delicious cuisine is all about. There is a range of other Persian rice dishes that we have failed to mention here, including estamboli polo, loobia polo and zereshk polo. Persian food simply offers a world of possibilities. And yet, despite the incredible diversity of Persian food and Persian rices, there’s something special about the original, plain white basmati rice. Perfectly fluffy, each long grain piece of basmati rice perfectly embodies what Persian food is all about. And this perfect plain white basmati rice is responsible for Persian food’s single most iconic dish: tadig.

Given the perfectness of this plain white basmati rice, that’s why we decided to use that ingredient when creating our crispy basmati rice tadig cups. However, as mentioned, tadig can be made in many different forms, depending on the type of rice you are making. If you’re interested in seeing other type of tadig cup bases, reach out to us here letting us know. We’ll be sure to add it to the innovation pipeline!

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