Bahgali Polo


This is the number one, all-around favorite in my household. It literally translates to beans and rice, but it is, oh, so much more than that. See notes for vegetarian options. You can use other beans for this recipe, such as broad beans and fava beans. This also works well with chicken in place of the lamb.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Additional Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
8 servings


  • 2 ½ pounds basmati white rice

  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen lima beans

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 pounds lamb, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • ½ cup butter, divided

  • 2 onion, halved and thinly sliced

  • 5 tablespoons dried dill weed, or more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon hot water

  • 1 pint plain yogurt


  1. Thoroughly rinse rice and transfer to a large bowl. Pour enough water over the rice to cover by a few inches and soak for 1 hour; drain.

  2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Cook lima beans in boiling water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes; drain.

  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and rice to the boiling water and cook until rice is partially softened, about 11 minutes; drain.

  4. Season lamb with cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

  5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir lamb in melted butter until completely browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer lamb to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in skillet until translucent, about 7 minutes. Return lamb to skillet; add dill and cooked lima beans. Remove skillet from heat.

  6. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon hot water. Spoon about 1/3 the partially cooked rice into the saucepan. Layer about half the lamb mixture over the rice layer. Repeat layering 1/2 the remaining rice, the remaining lamb mixture, and finishing with the remaining rice. Cut the remaining 3 tablespoons butter into cubes and arrange atop the top rice layer.

  7. Place a cover on the saucepan, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the rice is completely tender, about 30 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes before serving with yogurt.

Cook's Note:

To make this dish vegetarian, remove the meat and the cinnamon and perform all other steps as directed. To make vegan, substitute olive oil for the butter.

To make vegan, substitute olive oil for the butter.

To achieve a tight cover on the rice, some cooks will wrap the lid in a kitchen towel. The rice is cooked 'chelo' style, producing crispy coating of rice called 'tahdig.' This is intentional and a prized item at the Persian table. Gaining skill with this technique will allow the rice to turn onto a plate as if a cake and makes a lovely presentation.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

898 Calories
20g Fat
138g Carbs
37g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 898
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 11g 53%
Cholesterol 96mg 32%
Sodium 538mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 138g 50%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 8mg 40%
Calcium 228mg 18%
Iron 8mg 46%
Potassium 675mg 14%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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