Persian Cuisine Recipes: Kalam Polow کلم پلو

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Kalam Polow کلم پلو

Sufficient for 4 – 8 people
(Recipe Prepared by Shokooh)


– 500 g (1 lb) Basmati long grain rice 
– 250 g (.5 lb) meat, ground or small pieces
– 1 kg (2 lb) white cabbage
– 1 medium onion 
– 1 tbs tomato paste 
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/3 cup oil 
– 3/8 tsp ground saffron 
– 1 tbs lime juice 
– salt and pepper


1. After washing the rice thoroughly, soak the rice in salted lukewarm water to cover by 2 inches for 3 to 4 hours.

2. Slice the onion and fry in a little oil until it turns golden brown. Add the meat and continue to cook over low heat until the meat is done.

3. Shred the cabbage cutting out hard stalks, wash, dry and fry in a little oil, 1 to 2 tbs until it turns soft and golden brown.

4. Mix with the meat, 1/4 cup of water, salt, pepper, cinnamon, 1/8 tsp saffron, tomato paste and lime juice.

5. In a large saucepan, bring 8 to 12 cups of water to a rapid boil.

6. Pour off excess water from rice and pour into boiling water. Bring back to boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Test to see if the rice is ready. The grains should be firm in the center and rather soft on the outside. Strain and rinse with lukewarm water. Toss gently in the strainer.

7. Bring 1/4 cup water and 2 to 3 tbs oil to the rapid boil. Add layers of rice and the meat and cabbage mixture interchangeably building it up to a dome shape. The top layer should be rice.

8. Poke 5 or 6 holes through the rice to the bottom with the handle of a spoon. Close the lid. Keep on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until rice is steaming. Heat up 1/4 cup of water and 2 tbs oil and pour over the rice. Wrap the saucepan lid with a clean tablecloth and cover the pan firmly. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 45 minutes to an hour.

9. After removing from heat, place the saucepan in the sink and run cold water under it to cool down.

10. Add 1/4 tsp saffron to 1 tbs hot water. Lightly mix 2 to 3 tbs of rice with the liquid saffron in a small bowl. Set it aside for garnish.

11. To dish up, gently toss the rice and sprinkle lightly in a dish in a symmetrical mound. Garnish with the saffron rice.

12. Remove the crusty bottom and serve on a separate plate.