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+ servings

Sabzi Polo ba Mahi

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Herbed rice pilaf with fish
5 from 24 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course, Rice
Cuisine Persian
Servings 4



  • 2 cups white basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
  • 8 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice and will be rinsed out
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Nira (garlic chives), or chives
  • 1 tablespoon Fenugreek leaves, dried
  • 4 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water


  • 1 white-fleshed fish, sea bass, trout, sea bream, branzino
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 3 tablespoons oil



  • 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 and quickly rinse with warm water.
  • Remove about one cup of the parboiled rice and place it in a small bowl. Combine with 1 tablespoon of the saffron-water mixture and gently mix. Set aside.
  • Place the remainder of the parboiled and strained rice in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the chopped herbs to the rice and gently stir until the rice and herbs are mixed.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of ghee in a non-stick pot over low heat.
  • Spread the saffron rice evenly in the bottom of the pot. This will be the crispy rice referred to as the Tahdig.
  • Pour the remainder of the rinsed rice and herbs mixture into the pot and lightly fluff with a fork.
  • Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee into pieces and evenly spread over the top of the rice.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of water evenly over the top of the rice. Wrap the lid with a clean towel and place on top of the pot. This will allow the rice to steam.
  • Steam the rice over a medium-low to medium heat for about 45-50 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.


  • About 15 minutes before the rice is ready begin preparing the fish.
  • Rinse the fish under cool water and pat dry with paper towels.  Season the fish with salt, pepper and turmeric all over, including the inside.
  • Heat the oil in a large enough frying pan to fit the size of your fish and fry on medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side. The times will vary based on the size of the fish.
  • The fish will become crispy and golden on the outside and remain flaky and tender on the inside.


  • Select a large tray or platter to place upside down on top of the pan and carefully and swiftly invert the rice onto the platter.
  • There are many ways to serve this rice. You can keep the rice and Tahdig as is and place the fried fish on top. Or you can remove the Tahdig and place it on a seperate plate while decoratively arranging the fish on top of the rice.
  • Sabzi polo is often served with Persian pickled garlic and bitter orange. Otherwise a squeeze of lemon would also do the job!
Keyword cilantro, rice
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