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Albaloo Polo

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Sour cherry rice with meatballs
4.98 from 37 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Sour cherries

  • 3 cups sour cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted
  • 1/2 cup sugar, adjust up or down to your taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tiny pinch ground saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

Rice

  • 2 cups rice, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt, for boiling the rice and will be rinsed out
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil,
  • 1 tiny pinch ground saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

Ghel Gheli (meatballs)

  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Garnish

  • 1 tablespoon pistachios, slivered
  • 1 tablespoon almonds, slivered
  • 1 tablespoon rose petals, optional

Instructions
 

Sour cherries

  • Place the sour cherries in a saucepan, add sugar and cook on medium-low heat uncovered for 15 minutes. Juices from the cherries combined with sugar will create a luscious cherry syrup that will get used later with the meatballs.
  • Strain the cherries, and put the sauce aside.
  • Return the cherries into the saucepan, add butter and saffron water and gently mix over low heat for a couple of minutes. 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 5-8 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened. Drain the rice in a colander, rinse and set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons ghee in a non-stick pot over low heat.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the lightly cooked rice with 2 tablespoons of saffron-water mixture, gently mix and spread evenly in the bottom of the pot. This will be the crispy rice referred to as Tahdig.
  • Begin by layering a 1/3 of the partially cooked rice and a 1/3 of sour cherries into the pot and repeat until all of the rice and cherries have been layered in the pot.
  • 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.

Ghel Gheli (meatballs)

  • Place all the ingredients with the exception of the oil in a medium sized bowl and proceed to mix all the ingredients. Take some time to mix everything well, so that the meat mixture feels like a smooth paste.
  • Take the necessary time to create the Ghel Gheli by taking a small amount of the meat paste and rolling it between the palms of your hands. These meatballs are typically the size of a hazelnut.
  • Once all the meatballs have been formed, heat a large frying pan with oil and saute the meatballs until they are fully cooked and crispy. Typically about 10 minutes.
  • Add the reserved cherry syrup to the pan and swirl around for the syrup to be better mixed and coating the meatballs. Ideally this step would happen right before serving.

Assembly

  • Remove the rice from the pan and place on a serving platter. Arrange the meatballs on the serving platter and garnish with pistachios, almonds and rose petals.
  • Serve Albaloo Polo with a side of yogurt and a platter of fresh herbs.

Notes

This is another one of those dishes that I will sometimes forego making the meatballs and serve it with sunny side up eggs!
 
Keyword meatballs, rice, saffron, sour cherries
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