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Persian Saffron: Green Bean Rice (Lubia Polo)

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Starting this week, we are publishing recipes of Iranian dishes created and written By Azadeh Torabi. We call the section “Persian Saffron.”

My childhood memories are filled with my love and un-love relationship with Green Bean Rice, or Lubia Polo in Farsi. I loved the way rice break down under my teeth; the meat was juicy and tender; and the Persian spice made the dish a miracle bud. But I had my doubts about green beans mixed with the cooked rice.  In my childish effort I tried to avoid the poor innocent veggie. I would try to skip a few beans here and there in every bite. At the end, I would end up with a considerable pile of green beans on the side of my plate. “One day, you’ll know what you’ve missed,” my mother would always say, staring at my excavation.

She was right! Now, it is my turn to make this delicious meal, I devour the taste, take a moment to analyze every single bite, and smile at the trueness of my mom’s statement. Yet, I must confess I do not like when my daughter piles her green beans on the side of her plate. Surprise, surprise!

This recipe has become my “go-to” recipe. It is a great dish for any season, with ingredients available all year round. Also, the sauce makes a great freezer meal. I usually make a big patch of the sauce and store it in freezer-safe containers especially during Spring and Summer when I like to spend more time outdoors with my family rather than standing time by the oven. I defrost the sauce while the rice is boiling and voila! I will have the dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Noosh-e j?n! (bon appetite in Farsi)

Prep time: 15 min.

Assembly: 5 min.

Cooking time: 2 hrs

Ready in: 2 hrs 30 min

Level: Interm ediate

1 skinless chicken breast, diced into ½ inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 ½ cups fresh cut green beans

½ cup carrots, diced

1/3 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoon canola oil

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

3 cups warm water

3 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed is much better)

¼ teaspoon ground Cinnamon

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 cups Basmati Rice

2 tablespoons salt

2-3 tablespoons canola oil

Directions:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet over high heat.

2. Add chopped onions and sauté over medium heat until golden.

3. Sprinkle turmeric generously over onions and give it a quick stir. Lower heat until onions turn deep golden.

4. Add diced chicken to the skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Cover. Lower heat letting the juice come out.

5. Add tomato paste and stir quickly to cover the chicken.

6. Add green beans and diced carrots and combine. Finally add 3 cups of warm water. Put the lid on. Let the sauce simmer for 30-45 minutes on lower medium heat, allowing chicken and beans to cook thoroughly. Make sure not all the liquid is absorbed. If the liquid is disappearing too quickly, lower the heat.

7. Meanwhile, wash 2 cups of Basmati rice under lukewarm water. Drain. Repeat rinse and drain (4-5 times) until the water runs clear. This step is very important to wash away the excess starch. Otherwise, the rice will become too soggy after the sauce is added to it. After proper amount of rinsing, fill the pot with cold water 1 ½ times more than the amount of rice. Add about 2 tablespoons of salt to water. Bring to boil. It is important not to either overcook or undercook the rice at this point. As soon as the rice appears to be floating on the surface of the boiling water, give it 1-2 minutes. Before the rice foam overflows the pot, pick it up and drain it into a colander.

11. When the sauce has lightly thickened, it is time to add lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Give it 2-3 minutes for the ingredients to infuse the taste.

Assembly:

    

Put a 5 1/2-quart non-stick pot over medium heat. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil. Add 3 tablespoons of water. With a skimmer (slotted spoon), put rice in the pot until the bottom is completely covered, ½ inches high. With the skimmer, put sauce over rice to cover it randomly. Layer with rice, and then the sauce until there is no rice or sauce left. Pour over the leftover sauce liquid over the rice.

Cover until you notice excessive sweating on the lid and steam coming out of the pot. Lower the heat. Sprinkle some ground cinnamon over rice. Wrap the lid in a cloth or use 2 paper towel sheets to prevent the sweat from getting into the rice mixture. If you like the crispy bottom rice, let it sit for 30-35 minutes. Otherwise, it is ready in 25 minutes.

   

 

This is a lighter version of a dish that is originally made with beef and without carrots. Having an almost 2-year-old who resists veggies as much as possible, I have become the master of disguise and incorporate veggies where possible. The addition does not distort the taste in anyway. Adding some Cayenne pepper will make this dish a favorite among hot lovers.  The sauce can be made a day in advance to get more flavor out of it. Remember to leave some extra liquid in it for next day warming up. The sauce also makes a great freezer meal. Noosh-e j?n!