Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi (Rice with Fresh Herbs and Fish)


Happy Persian New Year! You might be sick of green food after St Patrick’s Day festivities but get ready for more.  Green intake is key around the Persian New Year to symbolize rebirth/new season/etc.  And with an insanely aggressive amount of herbs this dish has some serious greenage going on.


You can play around with the amount and different types of herbs but get comfortable with a 1:1 rice to herb ratio.  I did not cook the rice traditionally… I know… I’m terrible.  I basically cooked the rice according to package instructions and then added in all the herby goodness.  You could use any grain of your choice… I went with brown rice here but white rice, barley, quinoa… your call.  The rice is perfect with the pan-fried fish.  You give the fishers a little dusting in some seasoned flour (Turmeric love) and get them sizzly in a cast iron skillet.  I brushed them with a little extra saffron after cooking them but you don’t have to.  Just go for a nice piece of fish… it’s the new year after all.  Happy Norwuz!


You’ll need:

For the Rice

  • 1 cup long grain brown basmati rice*
  • 1.5 cup veggie stock or water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 0.25 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1 bunch scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 bunches flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 0.5 cup finely chopped dill (took about three of those boxes from the store)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoons saffron (you will use some for the fish too)

For the Fish

  • 2 fish filets (I used halibut)
  • 0.5 cup flour
  • 0.5 teaspoon turmeric
  • 0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt/Pep
  • Olive oil

*you can basically make the rice according to package instructions (or quinoa or farro) and then add all the ingredients in.  this is not traditional but it’s still delicious.

To Make:

  1. Combine rice, garlic clove and stock in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes with the lid on.
  2. You can chop your herbs while the rice cooks. Add 1 tablespoon butter to cooked rice and fluff with a fork.  Add herbs and stir (it’s a lot of herbs but we’re not here to mess around).  Place rice on a platter.
  3. Crush saffron in a mortar and pestle. Add 3 teaspoons of warm water and stir to combine.  Use about half of the saffron liquid to stir into the top of the herb rice so you have that red area at the top.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, turmeric and salt in a shallow plate.  Pat your fish very dry with paper towels.  Season with salt/pep all over.
  5. Lightly dredge fish in flour mixture on all sides, patting to remove excess flour.
  6. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the cast iron skillet and get it nice and hot (you can flick a little flour in the pan to see that it sizzles and is hot enough). Add the halibut, flesh side down.  The cook time really depends on the thickness of your fish.  I cooked the fish on this side for 6 minutes, flipped, and cooked for 2 minutes on the other side.  Mine was a pretty thick fish.
  7. Once you’ve flipped the fish, remove from heat and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the fish. Brush the remaining saffron liquid on the top of the fish.
  8. Serve rice with fish and additional lemon wedge.

Inspired by Food of Life Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies


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