Kadu Polo – Butternut squash rice

کدو پلو

Kadu Polo is a delightful Fall-weather dish from the Caspian Sea region of Iran, where its regional name is Ka-ee Pelah. It is a true celebration of the local flavors and produce that make northern Iranian cuisine so incredibly fresh, tasty and healthy.

I am often surprised and delighted when simple dishes without a long list of ingredients turn out so incredibly rich and flavorful. Fresh ingredients and proper cooking techniques are two essential elements of Persian cuisine.

Northern Iranian food tends to be focused on seasonal and regional produce. Additionally, when no meat is incorporated into the dish, fresh local eggs often complete the meals.

There are many different versions of Kadu Polo. I have seen it prepared with a wide range of spices and served with roasted chicken or with the adorable Persian petite meatballs, called Ghel Gheli.

For the photo, I have hollowed out a small butternut squash and cut the round part in half. The halves were then roasted gently with some oil and salt until softened. I filled one half with a poached egg while the other half was filled with the cooked rice and squash mixture. I garnished the plate with butternut squash pieces, fried onions, fried garlic slivers and micro-green leaves.

In Babol, the city near the shores of the Caspian Sea where my family is from, the one and only spice used in this dish is turmeric. I have taken the liberty of adding a touch of cinnamon to mine to add a little more aroma and flavor. Otherwise, I have kept true to the this dish’s traditional nature, with a focus on simplicity and the use of eggs instead of meat.

It is no secret that Iranians love onions. We eat them raw as an appetizer with bread and butter, and we also incorporate them into every cooked dish. We also love fried onions, or as we call them in Farsi, Piaz Daagh. Fried onions can either be incorporated into dishes as they cook, or be used as toppings on many rice or braised dishes.

Given the simplicity of this dish, fried onions are often layered in with the rice and are also decoratively placed on top before serving.

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Kadu Polo

Butternut squash rice with fried eggs
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: butternut squash, fried eggs, rice, turmeric
Servings: 4
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar, optional

Rice

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice and will be rinsed out
  • 2 cups rice, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground and mixed with 1 tablespoon of water

Eggs

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, ground

Instructions

Squash

  • In a large frying pan saute the onions with oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Add the diced butternut squash and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt, turmeric and cinnamon and toss to get the spices mixed in with the squash. Saute for an additional minutes.
  • Depending on the sweetness of the butternut squash, sprinkle 2-4 tablespoons of sugar to the mixture and stir. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Rice

  • In a large covered pot, bring 8 cups water and salt to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and boil on high heat uncovered for about 7-8 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened.
  • Drain the rice in a colander and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a non-stick pot over low heat.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the lightly cooked rice with the turmeric and water, gently mix and spread evenly in the bottom of the pot. This will be the crispy rice referred to as Tahdig.
  • Begin by layering one third of the partially cooked rice and then one third of the butternut squash mixture into the pot. Repeat until all of the rice and squash have been layered in the pot. Either leave the rice and squash in layers, or mix them gently.
  • Wrap the lid with a clean towel and place on top of the pot. Allow the rice to steam over a medium-low to medium heat for about 45 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Eggs

  • Heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the eggs, sprinkled with salt and pepper, over medium heat until desired consistency is achieved.

Serving

  • Select a large serving platter to place on top of the pan and carefully and swiftly invert the rice onto the platter.
  • Arrange the eggs on top of the rice and serve hot.

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