Havij Polo (Persian Carrot Rice)

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Havij polo is a Persian favorite with carrots, rice, and meat. My Iranian husband and my 2 kids love it, and they are very picky eaters. The recipe typically uses more rice, but we like more carrots and less rice.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 25 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 55 mins
8 servings


  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

  • ½ cup salted butter

  • 1 pound cubed beef stew meat

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups grated carrots

  • 2 cups water

  • 3 tablespoons white sugar

  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

  • 1 tablespoon butter, or as needed


  1. Saute onion in butter in a large skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove onion to a bowl, leaving any excess butter in the skillet.

  2. Sprinkle meat with cinnamon and salt; cook in the skillet in the remaining butter until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer meat to a small pot, leaving butter in the skillet. Add carrots to the skillet and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove carrots to a bowl; set skillet aside.

  3. Add water to the meat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove meat and mix with reserved onions. Pour 1 cup cooking water into the skillet used to cook the vegetables and meat. Add sugar; mix until completely dissolved. Set sauce aside.

  4. While the meat is cooking, place rice in a colander and rinse several times with warm water to remove starch. Transfer to a bowl and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.

  5. Bring 6 cups salty water to a boil in a large saucepan. Drain rice and add to the boiling water. Boil, stirring occasionally to prevent grains from sticking together, until rice is no longer crunchy but still quite firm, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain.

  6. Butter the bottom of a large pot and top with several layers of rice, the meat-onion mixture, and carrots. Pour sauce over top. Cover the underside of the pot lid with a clean dish towel and place tightly on the pot to absorb moisture.

  7. Cook over low heat until crunchy on the bottom, about 30 minutes, checking often near the end to prevent burning.

Cook's Notes:

Margarine can be used in place of butter, and lamb can be substituted for beef.

Some people peel and thinly slice regular carrots, but to save time, I use baby carrots and zap them in the microwave for 2 minutes to make them easier to grate using a food chopper, blender, or food processor.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

427 Calories
21g Fat
46g Carbs
13g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 427
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 11g 57%
Cholesterol 66mg 22%
Sodium 283mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 36mg 3%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 278mg 6%

* 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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