Rice with herbs, pan-fried white fish and smoked white fish (sabzi polow ba mahi)

Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 6 to 8
Rice with herbs, pan-fried white fish and smoked white fish (sabzi polow ba mahi)
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Rice with Herbs


Mix all chopped herbs in a bowl and set aside.


Clean and wash the rice several times in warm water, then drain well. Meanwhile, in a non-stick pot, bring the 2 quarts water and salt to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and bring to a boil again, stirring a couple of times to loosen the grains. When the rice rises to the surface of the boiling water, remove the pot from heat and drain in a large colander and rinse with cold water.


In a separate non-stick pot, combine half of the oil, 1 tablespoon dissolved saffron and 1/2 cup hot water. Put one layer of rice at the bottom of the pot, add one layer of chopped herbs (chives or green onions, parsley, cilantro and dill) on top. Repeat the process and form the rice in the shape of a dome. Arrange fresh garlic around the dome. Cover and cook till the steam rises to the top.


Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke a few holes (steam vents) in the rice. Pour the remaining oil or butter with the remaining 1/2 cup of hot water over the rice. Cover the top of the pot with a dishtowel, wrapping the towel over the lid (this will absorb extra steam as the rice cooks), and cook the rice over low heat until the rice grains are long and tender but not mushy, 50 to 60 minutes (the crust at the bottom of the pot, tahdig, will be thicker and crispier if cooked longer).


Transfer the rice to a platter. Mix one cup of the rice with the remaining dissolved saffron and melted butter and pour the mixture on top of the rice on the platter.

Pan-fried Fish


Sprinkle the fish fillets with seasoned flour, coating the pieces on all sides.


In a large skillet heated over medium-high heat until hot, add a thin film of oil. Fry the fish until browned on both sides. Arrange the fish on a platter, sprinkling over the saffron and a few drops of sour orange juice. Serve the fish garnished with sour orange halves.

Smoked Fish


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the fish with parchment paper and aluminum foil, place it on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake it for 30 minutes. Remove the fish from the parchment paper and aluminum foil and carefully transfer it to a serving platter. (The smoked fish can also be peeled, boned and arranged on the platter in small pieces after it’s removed from the oven.) Remove the skin from the top and drizzle over a few drops of sour orange juice. Garnish with sour oranges.

Adapted from a recipe by Shamsi Katebi. Sour oranges are available seasonally at Persian markets.

Jenn Harris is a senior writer for the Food section and is also the fried chicken queen of L.A. She has a BA in literary journalism from UCI and an MA in journalism from USC. Follow her @Jenn_Harris_.
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