Sabzi Polo (Herb Rice)

This recipe is adapted from M.R. Ghanoonparvar’s Persian Cuisine. I’ve reduced the salt and fat content, without sacrificing taste. This fragrant dish is a classic and with good reason — it’s light, full of flavor and loaded with fresh green herbs. I added some arugula to the mix — feel free to replace or substitute as you like.

The original recipe calls for cooking the rice for nearly an hour. I found that the rice in my cupboard required only about 20 minutes total. Keep an eye on the pot and adjust your own cooking times as needed.

Rice is a starchy grain, notorious for its tendency to clump like glue. To avoid a sticky mess rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking, and stir as little as possible when you add the herbs. In fact, fold the herbs in, slowly and carefully. Once the rice is back in the pan for its second round of cooking don’t stir it at all. Not only does this avoid problems with texture, but it allows the layer of rice at the bottom of the pan to develop a lovely, golden crust (the healthy coating of olive oil on the surface of the pan aids in that regard also).

(Serves 6)

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bunches green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 handful arugula, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water (optional)


  1. Rinse the rice several times in warm water to remove starch. Place water and salt into a large pot and bring to a boil. Drain the water from the soaked rice and add the rice to the boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain rice in a colander.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions, parsley, dill, arugula, cilantro and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until wilted. Add drained rice and saffron water to the pan and gently fold together (be careful not to over mix — see headnote).
  3. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick wok or skillet. Tilt the pan to coat the entire surface with oil. Add rice mixture. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or so until the rice at the bottom of the pan has browned, and grains at the center are fully cooked. Do not stir during cooking.
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