Kalam Polo (Persian Rice with Cabbage and Beef)

I have to admit that I was shooting in the dark when I made this.  I had made a different version before, and it was ok, not great.  But I figured, making a tasty combination of rice, beef and cabbage is kind of in my eastern european, Jewish blood.  I just needed to figure out how to do a Persian version.

So, I researched some different recipes, and they were all very different from each other, and decided to follow my gut and go to the Persian flavors I know.  We ended up with this version…and it is yummy, and comforting, and so beautifully yellow! Gotta love turmeric and saffron!

This version uses a Persian rice cooker, but if you don’t have one, not to worry.  Instead of putting the rice and meat mixture into the rice cooker, put it in a pot and place a clean dishtowel on top then the lid and cook it over a medium-low flame. The rest of the directions are the same.

So much happiness from such humble ingredients.

Kalam Polo (Persian Rice with Cabbage and Beef)

3 cups basmati rice

1/2 tsp saffron threads, ground and dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water

1 Tbsp grape seed or canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 medium cabbage, cut into 1/2” inch pieces

1 lb extra lean ground beef

3 cups water, divided

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 – 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp advieh (if you cannot get advieh, you can substitute cinnamon, but use a little less)

1 Tbsp turmeric

1 Tbsp tomato paste (or a little more)


Place the rice in a bowl, rinse with cold water until it runs clear.  Then leave the rice to soak in salted water for 2 hours.

Heat the oil in a large skillet (one you have a cover for) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown. Add the cabbage and ground beef and cook until the beef is browned and the cabbage starts to get tender, breaking up the beef as it cooks, about 5 minutes.

Add the salt, pepper, advieh and turmeric.  Stir to mix the spices through.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, a couple of minutes.

Add 1 cup of water and the prepared saffron.  Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes.

Drain the rice and place it in a rice cooker.  Add in the meat and cabbage mixture and mix through thoroughly.

Add 2 cups of water, cover and set to cook for 45 minutes.

To serve, break up the tah dig that forms at the bottom of the cooker. Enjoy!

Serves 8.


6 Comments Add yours

Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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