Ghapeli Polo – Rice with beef and garbanzo beans

قاپلی پلو

This dish finds its roots in the province of Kermanshah, located in the western region of Iran. At its core, it is a simple one-pot meal that starts with slow cooking of the beef and the garbanzos. Along the way, onions and simple spices are added to develop more depth and flavor. Once the beef and beans have become tender and succulent, rice is added straight into the pot and cooked until all of the moisture has been absorbed.

I first became aware of this dish only weeks ago when messaging with a friend, Masoumeh Khanoom, who is also one of my Instagram followers. Khanoom in Farsi is a polite and formal reference placed after a first name or before a last name to refer to a woman.

Masoumeh Khanoom explained some of the history and background of this dish and generously shared her recipe with me. What I love most about the world of social media is the unexpected encounters with folks near and far who take the time to strike up a conversation with me. In the process, we develop a connection around our love of our cuisine and culture.

I promised Masoumeh Khanoom that I would do my best to give this dish the justice it deserves. I took the liberty of adapting parts of the recipe and putting my own signature on it. I opted to add warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and saffron to the beef as it slowly simmered. I also decided to parboil the rice first and then add layers of cooked meat and beans, much like the other blended rice dishes I have posted on the blog. This was entirely based on my preference to ensure the rice was light and fluffy instead of dense and somewhat sticky.

I only hope I have successfully interpreted this dish and have made my friend proud.

A little bit about Kermanshah

  • The city and province of Kermanshah have deep significance in Iranian history.
  • The province is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • A famous style of Persian carpet is named after the region.
  • A local dessert called Naan-e Berenji is popular and well-recognized throughout Iran.
  • Producer of Roghan Kermanshahi, a highly prized sheep or cow oil in Persian cuisine.
  • Giveh, a soft and durable handmade shoe, is produced in the province.

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Ghapeli Polo

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Rice with beef and garbanzo beans
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Soaking time 8 hrs
Total Time 10 hrs 10 mins
Course Main Course, Rice
Cuisine Iranian, Persian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Beef and garbanzo beans

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound beef, chuck or round, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked for at least 8 hours
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron, mixed with 2 tablespoons of hot water

Fried onion

  • 1/2 cup oil, adjust as necessary for frying
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

Rice

  • 2 cups basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice and will be rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Instructions
 

Beef and garbanzo beans

  • Place all the ingredients with the exception of salt, pepper and saffron in a large pot and bring to a gentle boil.
  • Cover, reduce heat and cook for 60 minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper and saffron water and continue to cook for up to 30 minutes more or until the beef and garbanzo beans are fully cooked.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and star anise. Set aside.

Fried onion

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan until the oil begins to shimmer.
  • Add the onion and fry over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden in color.
  • Strain and place on a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Set aside.

Rice

  • In a large covered pot, bring 8 cups of water and the salt to a boil.
  • Add the rinsed rice and boil on high heat uncovered for about 5-7 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened.
  • Drain the rice in a colander, quickly rinse and set aside while you prepare the pan.
  • Place the oil in a large pot (non-stick preferred) and add enough of the parboiled rice to cover the bottom of the pot. This will be the crispy rice called Tahdig!
  • Using a slotted spoon place 1/3 of the cooked beef and garbanzo beans over the rice.
  • Begin by layering 1/3 of the partially cooked rice and a 1/3 of the beef and beans mixture into the pot.
  • Repeat until all of the rice, beef and beans have been layered in the pot.
  • Place the fried onions on top of the rice mixture and gently mix.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of the beef/beans broth over the top of the rice mixture. Set aside the rest of the broth.
  • 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.
  • Select a large tray or platter to place on top of the pan and carefully and swiftly invert the rice onto the platter.
  • Serve the rice with a cup of the beef/beans broth, and a side of yogurt or Persian pickled eggplants.

Notes

The animal protein can easily be eliminated to create a perfect vegetarian meal. 
For the photo, I used a tortilla on the bottom of the pot to create a bread Tahdig. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups
Keyword beef, garbanzo beans, rice
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4 thoughts on “Ghapeli Polo – Rice with beef and garbanzo beans

  1. I enjoy reading the recipes but we are vegetarians. Is it possible to include some non-meat-based recipes from time to time? Thank you.

    1. Hi Walter, I am also a big fan and an advocate for vegetarian dishes. While I write most of my recipes to showcase traditional Persian dishes, I try and offer alternatives to using animal protein in the notes section of the recipes. You can also click on the vegetarian/vegan links under the category tab to see all the dishes that are plant-based and do not need any adaptations. Happy cooking!

  2. This recipe looks delicious! But most importantly, I really enjoyed reading the background story about your friend and Kermanshah. Also, your food photography is great… not easy to do! Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Hazel, I I’m thrilled that you also enjoy the background stories! As far as photography goes, I am really an amateur photographer with a lot of patience to fuss over the details!

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