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Herb Rice with Green Garlic, Saffron, and Crispy Shallots

Herb Rice with Green Garlic, Saffron, and Crispy Shallots

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This recipe is a labor of love. This rice dish is based on one of the most famous Persian polos (pilaf), known as sabzi polo. And while the fried shallots are not traditional (you can take them out if you’d like), they add a crunchy layer to the dish. Serve with yogurt sauce alongside. Read more about throwing a Persian New Year feast here.


  • Vegetable oil (for frying; about 2 cups)
  • 4 medium shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, finely ground
  • 4 4-inch squares lavash or 6 romaine lettuce leaves, dark green parts only
  • 3 cups finely chopped tender herbs, such as cilantro, dill, and/or parsley (about 3 bunches total)
  • 4 green garlic or 4 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground dried rose petals (optional)

Recipe Preparation

  • Place rice in a large bowl and pour in lukewarm water to cover. Using your hands, agitate rice until water becomes cloudy; drain. Repeat process until water stays clear (4–5 times). Cover rice by 2" cold water and add a generous handful of salt (water should taste salty). Let soak uncovered at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

  • Meanwhile, place shallots in a medium saucepan and cover with oil ½" over shallots. Heat over medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are golden and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to paper towels and season with salt. Strain oil into a small bowl; let cool.

  • Dissolve saffron in 3 Tbsp. hot water in a small bowl.

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (use a nonstick pot if you have one; it will help the rice release at the end). Drain rice and add to pot, stirring gently to prevent any grains from sticking to the bottom. Bring to a boil and cook until grains begin to float on the surface and dance (rice should be almost tender but with a firm, opaque center), about 5 minutes (this could take as little as 4 minutes or up to 10, depending on age and quality of rice). Drain rice and rinse under cold water; set aside. Wash out pot.

  • Pour 3 Tbsp. shallot oil into clean pot. Swirl in 1 Tbsp. saffron water; reserve remaining saffron water for serving. Oil mixture should barely coat bottom of pot; add more oil if needed. Season lightly with salt. Lay lavash across pot (it can go up the sides a little, but don’t overlap). Spoon a third of rice over lavash; top with a third of herbs and a third of green garlic. Repeat, alternating layers of rice, herbs, and green garlic to form a mound. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in rice (without hitting bottom of pot) to let steam escape. Wrap lid with a kitchen towel and cover pot. Cook over medium heat until herbs are slightly darkened, 10–15 minutes.

  • Reduce heat to low, uncover, and place pieces of butter evenly over rice. Cover and cook until rice is fragrant and fluffy, 20–30 minutes. Remove from heat; let sit 10 minutes. Taste rice and season with more salt if needed.

  • Scoop one-quarter of rice into reserved saffron water and toss to color rice. Layer saffron rice with rice in pot and crispy shallots. Top with rose petals if using. Break up lavash crust into pieces and serve alongside rice.

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 600Fat (g) 41Saturated Fat (g) 10Cholesterol (mg) 25Carbohydrates (g) 58Dietary Fiber (g) 1Total Sugars (g) 1Protein (g) 6Sodium (mg) 15

Related Video

Andy Makes Herb Rice with Scallions and Saffron

Reviews SectionExcellent. This is not at all difficult to make. There are lots of steps but none of them are complicated and if you use good basmati it is a fabulous dish. Mine was done a few hours before dinner so I kept it covered (with cloth and pot lid) and didn't reheat it. It was moist and fabulous. Don't skip the fried shallots. A big hit with guests and family. I'll definitely make it again.AnonymousWashington, DC07/02/20Made this recipe to accompany Grilled Chicken Skewers (Bon Appétit recipe) and it was a hit! It was a perfect blend of nuttiness of rice blended with herbs with crunchy shallots. I was a little skeptical about lining the pot with lettuce but they turned out crunchy and delicious too.skpillowDallas, TX06/22/20This rice is delicious. Such a great side to many many dishes! The recipe is a bit long but it's still totally do-able on a weeknight if you have a bit of motivation. I've made it many times and everyone who has had it was amazed. Definitely a go-to recipe for me.PS. Andy's recipes never cease to amaze me! Simple ingredients that come together SO nicely thanks to his techniques.WOW Andy. So delicious and such an unexpected delight from this combo of steps. Labor of love is absolutely correct but every component makes it worthwhile. Brilliant way to make rice more interesting. I served with chicken/zucchini/bell pepper/red onion kebabs and it was perfect.I used 1 bunch (each) of parsley, cilantro, dill and tarragon.A few tips:The tarragon added a great depth here. I love this herb yet was afraid to use too much but honestly, with the cooking time on this, you don't taste the individual herbs.My herbs didn't get as dark as his in the video. I paid more attention to the doneness of the rice and I think this paid off.It might be tempting to mix the whole thing at the end to incorporate the caramelized romaine but if you do, be gentle because a beauty of this dish is how perfectly cooked the basmati becomes and if you mix too much you will mush it up.DON'T skip the crispy shallots. What a nice touch.10/10 will make again!merforceoneDallas10/07/19This recipe is fantastic. Such a labor of love, but it is absolutely perfect. I make this all the time and have become obsessed with that Romaine Lettuce Carmelization.AnonymousMassachusetts06/05/19

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