Sabzi Polow Mahi (Herb Rice with Fish)

Sabzi Polow (herb rice) and Mahi (fish) is traditionally served for the Persian new year Norooz. Persian New Year is celebrated every year to signify the beginning of spring and most of the dishes served during Norooz holidays have herbs as a symbol of rebirth, and fish that represents life.

There are other Norooz Specialty dishes such as Noodle Rice , Herb Omelette or Stuffed Fish that I have posted their recipes before. But yesterday one of my dear Instagram followers Hasti asked me for a recipe for Sabzi Polow Mahi, and since there is only one week until Norooz I thought it is the best time to do it.

The fish used in this recipe is Tilapia, but you can choose any other fish that you prefer and can be found easily where you live. Also there are four different herbs used in this recipe, but if you are living in a country where it is not easy to find them all, just like where I live, you can leave them out and use only dill. If you decide so, then keep in mind that you should increase the amount of dill from 1/4 cup to 1 cup. Preferred side dishes for this food are fresh herbs and pickles like Lime pickle or Red Cabbage pickle that i have explained before.

There might be various recipes for making this dish, but in this one, thanks to the saffron and lemon juice that is added at the end, the fish tastes incredible and won’t have any unpleasant smell.


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Serves 3 People
Prep time
20m
Cook Time
1h 0m

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups
    long grain rice (Basmati rice)
  • 3 Pieces
    Tilapia fish fillet, or a fish of your choice
  • ¼ Cups
    chopped dill, fresh or dried
  • ¼ Cups
    chopped chives or scallions
  • ¼ Cups
    chopped parsley
  • ¼ Cups
    chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • ½ Cups
    flour
  • 1 Teaspoon
    turmeric
  • ½ Teaspoons
    black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 Tablespoon
    fish spice
  • ½ Teaspoons
    ground saffron dissolved into 4 tablespoons hot water
  • 3 Tablespoons
    lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons
    butter
  • vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Wash the rice with cool water a few times. Soak in water, add 1 tablespoons salt and set aside for couple of hours. The longer you soak the rice it will be fluffier when cooked.

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  2. In a large non-stick pot, bring 5 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Drain the rice and pour into boiling water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring water back to a boil. After 5-7 minutes test to see if the rice is ready. Rice should be hard in the center and soft on the outside. Also another way to see if it's ready to drain is that you will see the rice gains starting to come to the surface of the water.

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  3. Drain the rice using a colander and rinse with cool water.

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  4. Add the chopped herbs to the rice and mix . Be careful to not break the rice grains.

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  5. Return the pot and heat 3 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Place the rice and herb mixture in the pot in a pyramid shape. Add butter to the top, make 3 holes in the rice with the bottom of a spoon to release the steam. Lower the heat, cover the lid and steam the rice for 45-50 minutes on low heat.

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  6. Meanwhile, mix the flour with turmeric, fish spice, black pepper and 1 tablespoon salt. You can add garlic powder too.

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  7. Coat each fillet with this mixture finely and set aside. Click on the image to enlarge.

    coatfish (Medium)
  8. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. place fish fillets in the pan and fry both sides until golden and crispy.

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  9. Mix the saffron water with lemon juice and add to the fillets.

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  10. Reduce heat, cover the lid and let it cook for some more minutes until fillets absorb the saffron and lemon juice.

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  11. When the rice is done, using a spatula gently serve the rice onto a platter and place the fish fillets beside it. You can save a bit of saffron water from step 9 and mix with some rice for garnish and decoration.
    Preferred side dishes for this dish were named in the description.

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4 reviews for Sabzi Polow Mahi (Herb Rice with Fish)

  1. Maryam
    5

    ()

    My mom used to make this dish exactly as you said, delicious and foul of flavours! Thanks

  2. MyKabulKitchen

    ()

    We have Sabzi Palow as well! Only it is a bit different as we only cook the rice with spinach…either way I love this “green rice” as I used to call it as a child :-)
    Hope you had a happy nowruz qaandem :-)

    • Marzie

      ()

      It sounds tasty to mix rice with spinach. I will surely try it. Happy Nowruz to you too dear.

  3. Nhan

    ()

    Hello, what is “fish spice”? My Persian wife and I want to try to make this, please. Is “fish spice” only found in Persian markets? Thank you.

    • Marzie

      ()

      Hi Nhan,
      Fish spice is sold in supermarkets in Iran but I just searched a little and I realised it´s a mix of garlic powder, red and black pepper, cumin and coriander seeds.
      I would love to see a picture of it if you finally make this food.
      Good luck

  4. Dario
    5

    ()

    I made this dish 2 months ago exactly to the recipe to practice for the New Year meal. Wow. What a show stopper. My husband does not care for fish but finished 2 filets and looked for more.
    Thank You!

    • Marzie

      ()

      Happy to hear that Dario :)

  5. Fatema
    5

    ()

    Hi,
    i’m from a Persian origin, and i wanted to celebrate Nowrouz with my kids this year as we are living in Sydney, just made my haft seen corner and gave a little information to my kids, tomorrow i want to cook sabzi mahi polo, i have fish spice mix but it has a little more ingredients that the one you mentioned ( black cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, kulinjan, fenugreek, onion, red chilli, turmeric ) will that be ok to use?

    • Marzie

      ()

      Hi Fatema,
      Sorry for replying after Nowrouz. I was spending the holidays in Iran. The fish spice mix you have works perfectly for this dish. Dont worry and enjoy cooking :)

  6. Bob
    5

    ()

    Not bad at all. I think this was the first time I’ve had it with fresh herbs and it was great. Liked the way of cooking the fish. My (Persian) wife finished the lot.

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