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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


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


  • 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


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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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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