Estamboli Polow (Persian Tomato Rice)

Estamboli Polow is a delicious combination of rice, beef, tomato paste and potatoes. Some say that its name is taken from the type of potatoes that were used in original recipe which were called Istanbuli. But you can use any other kind of potato and it will taste equally delicious.

The recipe for Estamboli Polow varies from one region to another or even from one family to another. Some families make it with only rice and tomato, some add potatoes to it and some families add meat and green beans. In our family the kind with green beans and meat is called Loobia Polow  and the one with potato is Estamboli Polow.

The perfect side dishes to serve with Estamboli Polow are Mast Khiar (yogurt and cucumber dip) or pickles like Torshi Kalam (pickled red cabbage)

Serves 4 People
Prep time
Cook Time
1h 0m


  • 2 Cups
    long grain rice (Basmati rice)
  • 1
    medium onion, diced
  • 1 Pound
    ground beef
  • 3
    medium potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons
    tomato paste *or 6 tablespoon tomato sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon
  • ½ Teaspoons
    black pepper
  • ½ Teaspoons
    salt (for the meat)
  • 1 Teaspoon
    salt (for the rice)
  • ¼ Teaspoons
    ground saffron dissolved into 4 tablespoons hot water
  • ½ Teaspoons
    Persian advieh *optional
  • water
  • vegetable oil


  1. Heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the diced onions until soft.

  2. Add the ground beef and stir until it's lightly browned.

  3. Add salt, turmeric, pepper and Persian Advieh and mix well.

  4. Peel and cube the potatoes. Add them to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.

  5. Add tomato paste and mix well with meat and potatoes for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat and allow it to cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

  6. In a pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over medium heat. Pour rice into boiling water and allow it to boil until the grains are soft on the outside and hard in the middle.
    Once rice is ready drain it in a colander and rinse with cool water.

  7. Put the pot back on medium heat and add 2 tablespoon oil and add a layer of rice.

  8. Then layer with some of meat and potato sauce and add half of the saffron water.

  9. Keep layering the rice and sauce ending with a rice layer. Add the other half of saffron water on top.
    Reduce heat, cover the lid and cook for about 45-60 minutes.

  10. Serve in a platter with the crisp rice from the bottom of the pot (Tahdig).

6 reviews for Estamboli Polow (Persian Tomato Rice)

  1. Justine Zwerling


    Wow amazing dish. Hubby and kids thrilled thank you!

  2. kainaaz


    great site , excellent description..Keep up the good work and keep it coming



    Great recipe thank you for sharing ! Making it tonight !

  4. Natalie


    Excellent recipe but please adjust your seasonings… I found that the recipe calls for too little salt, pepper and advieh… Increase to taste…

  5. Tesa


    it was a great food and delicious i ever taste it.. actually i love persians food cause they’re making food i don’t know in some other way but it’s good and i like it

  6. beth


    hi can you tell me the equivalent weights in grams or pounds and ounces please

  7. beth


    I cant review until Ive made it but I have been looking for this recipe for years!

  8. beth


    Please ignore my question I had jumped from another recipe. It sounds perfect thanks

  9. Elizabeth Lian


    Can you explain the prep of the rice further? So you cook the rice twice?

  10. M


    This does NOT require ground meat or any meat for that matter. Who wants to mix animal muscle, veins, and cartilage to their dish! Keep the animal meat out and it is far more delicious without it!

  11. Homayoon Khosrovi


    Thank you for this recipe. This was one of my dad’s favorite dishes and my mom used to prepare it quite often. She would alternate between small meatballs and ground beef, depending on how hurried she was. That’s what we’re having tonight.

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