Tomato rice

Tomato rice

Istambuli polow

Mark Roper

This is a favourite home-style rice dish, and one that we enjoyed several times in Iran. It is cooked using a more straightforward absorption method – which means no tah-deeg! The trade off is a really tasty, hearty meal that is particularly good on cold wintry days. Tomatoes and potatoes were introduced to Iran relatively recently, via Turkey – hence the name: Istambuli polow.


Quantity Ingredient
2 garlic cloves
50ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch cayenne pepper
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
300g lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 cm cubes, (from the leg)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
300g basmati rice
1 waxy potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 large tomato, seeded and cut into 1 cm cubes


  1. Finely dice one of the garlic cloves. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat, then add the onion, diced garlic and spices and season with salt and pepper and fry gently for 4 minutes. Add the lamb, tomato paste and enough water to cover and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender.
  2. While the lamb is cooking, put the rice into a large bowl and rinse well under cold running water, working your fingers through it to loosen the starch. Drain and repeat until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with cold water and leave to soak for 45 minutes. Drain and rinse for a final time.
  3. Add the potato, tomato and rice to the lamb and pour in enough boiling water to cover by 1 cm. Stir gently and adjust the seasoning to taste. Lightly bash the remaining garlic clove and add it to the pan. Return to a boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, then slide a clean, folded tea towel under the lid and leave it to stand for 20 minutes without peeking.
  4. To serve, tip the rice onto a warm serving platter and fluff the grains into a pyramid with a fork.
Middle Eastern
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