Kalam Polo (Persian Cabbage and Rice)


This kalam polo is a traditional Persian dish with an aromatic flavor. You can omit the ground beef if you want to make it vegetarian. Serve it with Shirazi salad, it will taste wonderful.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Additional Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins


  • 1 ½ cups boiling water

  • 1 tablespoon saffron

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • ½ cup chopped onion

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3 cups chopped cabbage

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

  • 2 cups basmati rice

  • 1 ½ cups cold water

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 cup hot water


  1. Pour boiling water over ground saffron; let sit for 30 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup for rice; save remaining brewed saffron for another use.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until light brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in ground beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and turmeric. Cook and stir until beef is browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

  3. Heat remaining oil in another pan over medium heat. Sauté cabbage until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon and ginger. Stir mixture into ground beef mixture and continue to cook over low heat, covered, for 5 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of water if the mixture is dry.

  4. Rinse and drain rice; transfer to a pot. Add cold water, butter, and remaining salt. Bring mixture to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is half-cooked and water has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

  5. Add beef mixture to the rice and slowly mix to incorporate. Turn the heat to low. Add hot water and reserved 1/4 cup brewed saffron to the rice, cover the pot, and let cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Cook's Notes:

You may adjust the amount of required water based on how you prefer your rice.

If you like a crispy tahdig, let the polo cook for extra time.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

681 Calories
28g Fat
81g Carbs
27g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 681
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 9g 46%
Cholesterol 79mg 26%
Sodium 688mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 81g 29%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 27mg 134%
Calcium 63mg 5%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 397mg 8%

* 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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