Back to Basics – Persian Rice (Polo) 101

Persian Rice - polo and tahdig

It is so exciting to see all the people following the blog who are new to Persian cooking! I am so happy people are interested in plant-based cooking and Persian cooking on top of that! So I wanted to go back to the basics of Persian cooking and share a recipe for making traditional Persian rice (called “polo”).

To begin, I should emphasize the importance of a Persian rice cooker. It is a much easier and convenient way to make Persian rice. It makes a much better tahdig (the crispy, golden crust on the bottom of Persian rice), and you don’t have to worry about burning the tahdig. If you prefer not to invest in a Persian rice cooker, you can use a deep, non-stick pot with a tight lid.

Tahdig is highly coveted at a Persian dining table and can be made with rice, potato, or even a flour tortilla! I have to admit, tortilla tahdig is my favorite! 🙂

Persian rice can be served in 2 different styles:

Style 1: Remove the lid, hold a serving platter tightly over the pot, and flip over to unfold the entire rice on the platter. It should be shaped like a golden-crusted cake.

Style 2: Spoon the rice onto a platter and decorate with saffron rice. Detach the tadig at the bottom of the pot and arrange pieces around the rice or on a separate small plate (see picture below). To garnish with saffron rice, take 1/2 cup cooked rice and mix with saffron water (1/4 tsp. ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp. hot water).


  • 3 cups of long grain basmati rice
  • 3 Tbsp. salt
  • cooking oil
  • turmeric
  • Peeled, sliced Russet potato or a flour tortilla (optional)


  1. Wash rice. To wash the rice, place the rice in a large bowl and cover with water. Move the rice with your hand to clean. Pour off the water. Repeat the process 3-4 times until the rice is clean.
  2. Fill a large pot with water (3/4 full), add salt, cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Add rice to boiling water, and cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the rice.
  5. Add 1/2 Tbsp. water, 1 Tbsp. cooking oil, and dash of turmeric to bottom of rice cooker or non-stick pot.
  6. If making potato or tortilla tadig, add to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Add the rice, cover, and cook 45-50 minutes in the rice cooker. (If cooking in a non-stick pot, cook for 45-50 minutes on medium/low heat).
  8. Serve according to your preferred style above.
  9. Noosh-e-Jan (Enjoy)!

SERVES 5-6 people

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