Estamboli Polo- Persian Potato Beef tomato Rice

Estamboli Polo is a great all-in-one meal. Usually I have my ground beef already fried and in the freezer as backup to any dish. So for me, this is a quick go-to meal. Traditionally the potatoes don't need pre-frying I just like the look and extra flavor added so I pre-fry my potato cubes. Do as you wish, just be sure to enjoy each step of the way!

Takes about 1 hour and 30 min to prep and cook everything
Serves about 4-6

Estamboli polo comes from the north of Iran.Traditionally you eat it with pickled veggies (torshi) OR yogurt but not both because they say that if you mix vinegar and yogurt, you will get dark blotches on your face!

Ground red meat (I use beef) - about 1 lb 
Potatoes peeled and diced into "jewel sized" cubs (about 2cm cubes) - about 4 fist sized 
Diced tomatoes (do not drain) - 1 can (28oz) 
Basmati rice - 2 cups 
Onions - 2 large 
Garlic - 3 cloves

Teaspoon cinnamon - .5 (or a bit more to taste) 
Turmeric - .5 teaspoon 
Salt and Pepper to taste

Vegetable Oil- about half a cup
Water - about a half a cup

Start by frying your ground red meat. I use beef, but lamb and veal is fine too.

Cut 1 onion into small cubes and add with some oil (about 3 table spoons minimum) into a heated frying pan. Add your meat as well as your spices and start frying. Once your meat has started browning, add in your minced garlic.

Until your meat browns completely you can start your potatoes in another frying pan. Cut your potatoes into small cubes (like 1.5 cm cubes)

 Fry until nice and golden with some oil, salt and pepper. set aside.

Cut up your last onion into small cubes, fry with some more oil until golden brown. set aside.

So by now your meat is nice and brown, and you have your potatoes and your golden onions.
Time for the rice.

Wash your Basmati rice at least 4 times, basically until the water is no longer cloudy. 

After draining your last rinse, add just enough water so that it does not come over your rice. Then add in your large can of diced tomatoes. 

Mix in a pinch more of cinnamon (to taste) and pepper (because pepper looses its flavour through cooking). Add in your onions along with a half a cup of water. Stir gently (as not to break your long grains of beautiful rice).

Turn on the stove and bring your mixture to a boil (with the lid off of your rice). Once your rice starts bubbling a bit, turn it down to a a low/medium (again I turn mine to e/10) now add in your potatoes, and meat, stir gently. Add in a minimum of 2 tablespoons of oil or butter.

Place your lid. and wait. 

It is important that you place the lid onto the rice AFTER the rice has stopped boiling otherwise your rice water will overflow and cause a huge mess on your range and you will not only curse at yourself, but me. So lets avoid the situation.

After about 45 min, you will do that tadig twist test and see if your tadig is ready. You must use a non stick pan to do this. What I do is I lift the pot off the stove holding the lid with a towel. Lift and twist vigorously until you hear the rice sliding. if you hear the hardened rice sliding, then it should be ready… should.. this is a difficult process that you have to just learn to know. 

A second test is the wet finger test (my grandmother's trick). Wet your finger then tap it on the side of the warm pot on the stove. If the moisture sizzles off at the touch, then it's ready! Choose your method.

Tadig is very difficult to make especially with tomato based rices. This is because tomatoes burn very quickly and easily so be sure your range is on a low heat. My burner goes to 10 and I usually set it on 4 after it boils, but with Estamboli polo I put it on 3- just to give you an idea.

If you find the tadig part just too overwhelming, check your rice and once it is cooked, you can take it off the stove and serve.

Tadig! No your rice is not burnt it is an art to create great tadig. Ask any Persian! ;)

Serve with plain yogurt OR pickled vegetables. Your pick!

Traditional Estamboli Polo - not with pre-fried potatoes, so you can see the difference visually below. Still super yummy!



  1. I am going to try to make this dish, wish me luck!
    I 'll let you know how it turns out,thank you for sharing.

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