Kalam Polo Shirazi (from the region of Shiraz, Iran) was introduced into the family by my father. His love for this fragrant Iranian rice dish dates back to his childhood in Shiraz where my grandmother’s cooking reigned. Years later when his mother passed away, he had to ask around in order to obtain the recipe. Finally, he got his hands on the recipe which surely had changd over the years. Coming home from school I would often smell the fragrant aroma of tarragon from outside. I instantly knew he missed his mother… that is usually when he would prepare the dish. He would make it whenever feeling nostalgic or missing my grandmother. I had never attempted to make Kalam Polow until recently I had a major unexpected craving for it. I think I just missed my father and thought by making his signature dish I’d fill the void brought by the distance. Winter time when fresh cabbage is in season is the best time to prepare this dish. And today, I miss my father who happens to be thousands of miles away in Iran for the winter. So I am making this dish in memory of my grandmother and because I just miss my father plain and simple.
Note: if you grew up hating cabbage. Don’t worry as this dish will make you change your mind. I myself am not a big fan of cabbage but when eating it in this dish- it tastes delicious.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6 ppl):
2 cups of rice
4 cups of shredded white cabbage
1 onion (grated)
1 lbs ground beef
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of saffron
Herbs: (May use dry or fresh)
2 cups of fresh parsley (1 cup if dried)
2 cups of fresh cilantro (1 cup if dried)
2 cups of chives (1 cup if dried)
2 cups of Persian basil (1 cup if dried)
1/2 cup tarragon
1 cup fresh dill (or dry dill)
salt and pepper
1. Grate onion into small pieces, remove the onion juice. Mix the onion with the ground beef. Add salt and pepper and turmeric and mix with the meat and onions
2. Roll small pieces of meat mix into meatballs. You want the meatballs to be on the smaller side
3. Cook meatballs in a lightly oiled pan until partially cooked
4. Shred white cabbage into small pieces
5. Saute shredded cabbage in a slightly oiled pan until cooked. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of turmeric.
6. Chop all the herbs into small fine pieces.
7. Mix the herbs with the sauteed cabbage and add to the meatballs. Add 1 cup of water and cook on medium heat until water partially evaporates.
8. Prepare rice and remove from heat when partially cooked.
9. When your rice is ready, remove from pan. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add layers of thinly sliced potatoes. Add one layer of rice and another layer of mixture. Continue layering and gently mix pot to mix the ingredients together. Finish with a thin layer of rice. With the bottom of your spatula make several holes in your rice layer without touching the bottom of the pot. This allows the steam to reach the top. Cook for 40 minutes on medium-low heat.
10. Serve with rice and pickled torshee.