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Vegan, plant-based, Iranian, Persian Kalam Polo Cabbage Rice

Vegan Kalam Polo (Cabbage Rice)

  • Author: Plant-Based Persian
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 people 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


A unique twist on a Persian cabbage rice dish


Units Scale
  • 1 14 oz package extra-firm tofu (pressed for 20 minutes to remove excess liquid)

Tofu Marinade

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp of soy sauce

Sauteed Cabbage

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 medium cabbage head, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp of Brewed Saffron

Basmati Rice

  • 3 cups Basmati rice (washed)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 Tbsp Brewed Saffron
  • Flour tortilla for tahdig


Prepare Tofu

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare “Tofu Marinade”
  3. Add the pressed tofu to the marinade and use your hands or a fork to break apart the tofu into crumbles and combine well with the marinade.
  4. Put the marinated tofu crumbles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes (stirring the tofu in the middle of the cooking time). Set aside.

Prepare Sauteed Cabbage

  1. Add 2 Tbsp of oil to a large sauté pan on medium heat.
  2. Add the shredded cabbage and sauté until golden (about 20 minutes).
  3. Add the Brewed Saffron and salt. Keep sautéing another 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the baked tofu to the sauteed cabbage, and set aside. 

Prepare Basmati Rice

  1. Fill a large pot with water (3/4 full) over high heat.
  2. Add the salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the Basmati rice and cook (uncovered) for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the rice.

Combine Basmati Rice with Cabbage Mixture

  1. Add 1 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp Brewed Saffron to the bottom of a large Persian rice cooker or non-stick pot with lid.
  2. Add the flour tortilla (or a medium Russet potato, washed, peeled and cut into 4-5 slices for traditional tahdig).
  3. Add a layer of half the Basmati rice.
  4. Add the cabbage and tofu mixture.
  5. Add the remaining Basmati rice.
  6.  Cook for 50-55 minutes in the Persian rice cooker (if using a non-stick pot, cook covered for 50-55 minutes on medium/low heat).
  7. Stir to combine the Persian rice mixture before serving.


  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Persian/Iranian

Keywords: Persian, Iranian, Vegetarian, Vegan, Iranian, Plant-based, Polo, Kalam, Cabbage, Tofu