dark photo of persian rice

Reshteh Polo (Persian Rice with Noodles, a Nowruz Recipe)

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8 1x


Reshteh polo, a traditional Persian recipe of rice and noodles that is customarily eaten during Nowruz, the Persian New Year.



Liquid saffron

  • Liquid Saffron
  • A pinch of saffron (about 20 pistils, if you’re counting!)
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 6 Tbsp hot water

Reshteh Polo

  • 400g (2 cups) basmati rice
  • 200g (7oz) reshteh (they can’t really be measured in a cup)
  • 2 large onions, sliced in rings
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) raisins
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) pitted dates, chopped roughly
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp EV olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 large potato, sliced thinly, see picture above
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
  • a sprinkle of salt

Garnish (optional)

  • some slithered or chopped pistachios


Let’s Start with the Liquid Saffron

  1. Crush the saffron and salt, using a pestle and mortar, to a powder. The salt aids the crushing. A round and round motion is better here than pounding, because the saffron pistils are fairly tiny and flat.
  2. Add the hot water, and leave to stand while you get all the other ingredients ready.

Parboiling the Rice and Noodles

  1. Bring a large, roomy saucepan full of water to boil on high heat. Add the salt to it.
  2. Rinse your rice.
  3. When the water is boiling, tip the rice and noodles in and bring back to boil on medium heat. Cook for 7 minutes, then drain the rice and give it a rinse in cool/cold tap water (depending on the season). Drain and set aside. While the rice and noodles are boiling, let’s attend to the onions, raisins and dates.

Onions, raisins and dates

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a roomy frying pan over medium heat. Tip in the sliced onion rings and fry on this heat for 1 minute.
  2. Then lower the heat down to medium-low and fry for a good 5-7 minutes until your onions are a golden brown. Tip out onto a plate.
  3. In the same pan, fry the dates for 1 minute, in 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil. Tip out.
  4. Next, follow with the dates, in 1/2 Tbsp of oil again, again for about a minute. The chopped up dates will most likely clump up, don’t worry about it. We’ll break them up when using. Tip out onto a plate.

Steaming the Rice, starting with potato tahdig.

  1. Wash out and dry the saucepan you used to parboil the rice, then place it on medium heat.
  2. Heat the 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of olive oil, swirling to coat the base thoroughly.
  3. Line the base of the pan with the potato slices, making up 2 layers. Press down with a spatula.
  4. Gradually add half the rice on top of the tahdig, ladle by ladle. Season with a small sprinkle of salt and some pepper.
  5. Scatter half the onions, raisins and dates all over. And drizzle 2 Tbsp of the liquid saffron all over. Finally top with pinches of 2 Tbsp of butter.
  6. Follow with the rest of the rice, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle another 2 Tbsp of liquid saffron all over.
  7. Using your ladle, bring the rice in from the edges, forming a slight conical shape.
  8. Wrap the saucepan lid up with the towel and place on the saucepan, ensuring it’s a tight fit. The towel is there to absorb any excess moisture, preventing soggy rice. Make sure your tea towel is nowhere near the flame!
  9. Cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, then lower the heat right down and let the rice steam away for 40 minutes. You will end up with a beautiful golden brown potato tahdig, with tiny burnt bits. The best part!
  10. When the rice is done, take it off the heat, top with pinches of 2 Tbsp of butter, cover, and leave to rest for 10 minutes before you start dishing up.

Serving Reshteh Polo

  1. Dish up the rice onto a large platter, being careful not to break up the potato tahdig. Top the rice with the remaining liquid saffron, onions, raisins and dates.
  2. Finish off with some pistachios, if using.
  3. Carefully lift out the tahdig and serve up on a different plate. Or you could break it up and surround your reshteh polo with it. Noushe jan!

  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Persian