In a cruel twist of fate, an adventurous food lover like myself gave birth to a picky eater. Before I had kids, I would see other children turn up their noses at food and watch their mothers turn into short order cooks and I would laugh and think that would never be my child. My child would NEVER eat noodles and butter or chicken fingers. I had images of my kids diving into bowls of curry and picking up salmon sashimi with chopsticks. They say that a parent’s eating habits are the biggest influence on children and since I eat pretty much everything on earth and love it, I assumed my children would too. During my pregnancy with my daughter, I ate Indian, Thai, Korean, Persian, Japanese and I had a huge craving for spice. Every night I would eat a feta stuffed jalapeno pepper.
My daughter is not the typical picky eater. She LOVES fruits and vegetables. Getting her to eat her greens has never been a problem……she happily eats broccoli, green beans, avocados, cherries, grapes (her favourite), apples, you name it. She’s a natural healthy eater. Getting her to eat “meals” has always been a struggle. She is one of those kids that likes everything separate. In fact, until recently, all her meals were in TV dinner style plates where all the components of her meal had to be in different compartments. So therefore dinners where things were mixed such as lasagna, stews, pasta with sauce and even pizza were a no-go. Lily prefers everything plain (or as she calls it “clean”).
That was until she had Loobia Polo. Loobia Polo was the first dish that she did not complain that her rice was not “clean”. She loved every bite and what’s not to love – a delicious and aromatic mix of rice, tender beef, green beans, mushrooms, tomato, cinnamon and other spices. Loobia Polo is a fabulous family meal – nutritious and balanced, it is a guaranteed hit for adults and kids – even the most picky!
3 cups basmati rice
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing beef, 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb green beans trimmed, 1/2 inch
8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed, halved and sliced (optional)
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 cup drained canned diced tomato (you may also use fresh if you wish)
1/8 tsp ground saffron
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water (for the ta-dig)
2 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
salt and pepper
Wash rice and soak in warm water for at least 30 minutes. For detailed instructions on washing rice, please see the following link Persian Rice with Golden Crust.
While the rice is soaking, in a separate pot (or Dutch Oven), heat 2 tbsp canola oil over medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and fry for another minute.
Turn up the heat to medium-high and add another tbsp of oil and brown the beef for about 5 minutes.
Add the green beans, the sliced mushrooms and another tbsp of oil and saute for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and fry for one minute. Then add the tomatoes, 1 tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes. Set aside when done.
In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon, cumin and ground saffron. Set the spice mixture aside.
Fill a large non-stick pot ¾ full with water and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Drain the soaked rice and add to the pot of boiling water. Turn down the heat slightly to medium-high (it should still be boiling) and boil for 6 minutes stirring occasionally.
Drain the rice in a wire sieve.
Using a paper towel, dry your pot. Pour enough canola oil into your pot to just cover the bottom. Add the saffron water to the oil.
Using a spatula, add enough rice to form a layer to cover the bottom of the pot and form the ta-dig (the golden rice crust).
Sprinkle about 1/3 of the beef and green bean mixture on top. Then add 1/3 of the spice mixture.
Repeat the layers (rice, meat mixture, spices) forming a sort of pyramid.
Top with the butter pieces.
Using the handle of a wooden spoon poke three holes in the rice and pour over 1/4 cup water mixed with 1 tbsp canola oil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Turn down the heat to medium low and take a clean dish towel and cover the lid of the pot. Make sure that the lid is on tightly. Alternatively you can use a double layer of paper towel between the pot and lid. Let the rice steam for 40-50 minutes.
When rice is ready very gently mix the rice. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Using a spatula transfer the rice to a serving dish.
Loosen the ta-dig (the crispy rice) with your spatula or a wooden spoon and serve with the rice. Enjoy!