A while back when I posted my kalam polo recipe, an anonymous reader mentioned using yellow split peas for added flavor. Thanks to our reader, we now have the vegan and vegetarian version of kalam polo. I have to say though flavorwise, this rice is a cross between gheymeh polo and kalam polo and is truly delicious! Incidentally, this rice pairs well with Persian cucumber salad or Persian pickled veggies torshi.
Vegan Kalam Polo (Persian Cabbage Rice)
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 10 min
Yields: 6 servings
1 cup yellow split peas picked over and washed
1 small head green cabbage chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup olive oil divided
2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon tomato paste
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons rice seasoning advieh
Pinch of saffron (optional)
2 cups long grain basmati rice washed and drained
Bring yellow split peas and 3 cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Cook on medium low heat for about 20 minutes or until the split peas are tender.
Please note the split peas used in this recipe are the “slow cook” type available at Middle Eastern markets or online. Regular split peas, found at most supermarkets, tend to cook faster and fall apart in Persian dishes. If using “regular” split peas adjust the cooking time.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped cabbage. Sautee for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and 1 teaspoon of rice seasoning advieh . Add 1 teaspoon of tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Advieh Polo is a spice blend made of cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, ginger, cloves and rose bud petals. It can be found in the Persian or specialty stores.
In the same skillet, fry chopped onions in 5 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon advieh polo, saffron, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook for few more minutes then add 2 cups water to create a sauce. Add sautéed cabbage and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the cabbage and split pea mixture is cooking, add rice, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 tablespoons oil, 2 cups rice and 3 cups water to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered, until the rice absorbs all the liquid and small holes form on its surface.
Transfer rice to another bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the bottom of the pot, more if you want tahdigh, crispy rice crust. Layer 1/3 of the rice followed by 1/3 of the cabbage mixture. Continue layering until all the ingredients are finished. Heat rice over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until it starts steaming. Cover the lid with paper towel, lower heat to medium low and simmer for 40 minutes, longer for crispy crust.