Fluffy, long-grain rice speckled with fragrant dill and fava beans, Baghali Polo is a Persian national treasure. It is very versatile in that it compliments nearly any meat dish from baked halibut to your mom’s famous pot roast, even barbecued ribs. That is what we had for our family dinner Sunday night and it was a delight. The meat is optional, really, because Mom’s Baghali Polo can stand on its own, drawing protein from the delicious fava beans. This is a simple, nutritious meal the whole family is sure to love.
Fresh is best. No one can argue with that, but, knowing how much to buy can be challenging. One pound of fava pods gives you about one cup of beans. Also, shelling fava beans can be very labor-intensive. It is a two-step process: First, you have to take the beans out of the pods. Then, you have to remove the membranous shell around the bean. If you have the time (and remember to), clean the fava beans the night before you cook. Don’t be a hero – get the frozen fava beans. We have the technology.
Mom’s Persian Fava-Dill Rice (Baghali Polo)
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 cups shelled fresh or frozen fava beans (3lbs fresh pods)
2 bunches fresh dill (about 2 cups)
1 large pita bread or 3 large russet potatoes
3-4 Tb olive oil
pinch saffron + pinch sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Shell the fresh fava beans the night before or just use frozen ones.
Wash and trim fresh dill. Set onto clean paper towels to air-dry.
Chop dill and garlic, set aside.
Melt butter on low.
Grind saffron + sugar, then combine with melted butter and set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and add a good 1/4 cup of salt.
Set it over medium-high heat, put the lid on and bring the water to a boil.
Wash and rinse the rice gently in cold water until the water is no longer cloudy.
Add rice and fava beans to hot water, stir gently.
Top pot with clean tea towel and put the lid on.
Reduce heat to low and allow the rice to steam, ~10-15 minutes.
Drain excess water.
Drizzle some olive oil onto the bottom of the pot.
Line with pita bread (or potatoes) and season with a bit of salt.
Gently layer rice over bread, sprinkle dill + garlic, mix to incorporate and
break up clumping rice.
Layer rice with dill until the pot is full.
Dot top with saffron-butter, cover with lid and allow the rice to cook another 15 minutes.
Remove lid, place a platter over the top of the pot, flip the rice onto the platter so that the crisped pita is now on top.
Serve with roast, fish or without any meat and fresh salad.