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055Estamboli Polo (Green Bean Rice)

Estamboli polo is one of the favorite rice dishes among Persians. This version that I later learned is actually called loobia polo, uses beef and green beans.  My mother-in-law who was a Tehrani and a great cook, always called this dish estamboli polo. She just recently learned that it was actually called loobia polo as Simmon mentioned in the comment section, so my apologies and thanks to Simmon for the correction.

Estamboli Polo (Green Beans Rice)

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 2 hour 30 mins
Ready in: 2 hour 45 min
Yields: 6 to 8 servings


For meat:

1 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons oil
2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into ½-inch cubes
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground saffron (optional)
2½ cups water
2 pounds fresh or frozen cut green beans, about 6 cups
2 tablespoons butter

For rice:

10 cups water
3 cups long grain basmati rice washed and drained
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons oil (divided)


Heat oil in a deep nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add chopped onions. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 to 7 minutes or until onions are slightly golden. Increase heat to high, add meat and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the meat is slightly browned. Add 2½ cups water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 50 minutes. Add green beans, saffron and 2 tablespoons butter. Cook for 30 minutes or until beans are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Bring 10 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large nonstick pot. Add rice; stir and return back to a boil. Lower heat to medium; cook for about 6 to 7 minutes or until rice rises to the top. Drain in a fine mesh colander.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same pot. Arrange one-third of the rice on the bottom of the pot, top with a third of the meat mixture. Repeat alternating the layers until all the ingredients are used. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in the rice, all the way to the bottom of the pot to allow steam to escape. Place a clean dishtowel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot and cover firmly with a lid to absorb the steam. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Pour ¼ cup water mixed with the remaining oil (2 tablespoons) over the rice. Lower heat to medium low, cook for 1 hour.

To serve, gently spoon the rice mixture onto a serving plate lightly mixing the ingredients. The bottom of the rice develops a crisp crust that you can serve on a separate plate.