Loobia or Lubia Polo is a very popular Persian comfort dish.
It is a rice dish traditionally layered with green beans, spiced ground meat, tomatoes, herbs, and infused with saffron.
I discovered recipes for the traditional version when looking for something interesting to do with the Indian meatballs I had in the freezer and the big bag of green beans in the fridge!
A bit like an Iranian version of an Indian Pilaf or Briyani it seemed to me.
So I embarked on developing my version with the Indian Meatballs I had but these could more authentically replaced with lamb or beef mince. Have to say my version works really well but you have to make the meatballs first so is an extra step.
I made this a few months ago and tweeted a pic of the finished version and it has attracted more than 20,000 impressions! My most ever…so I thought I had to share the recipe! Hopefully you’ll like it too!?
Like Briyani it takes quite a few steps but worth it!
Prep time with meatballs: 1 hour including making and cooking meatballs, 25 minutes if using mince.
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 10-12 cooked Indian meatballs (recipe) or 400g lamb or beef mince
- 200g green beans cut into thirds
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 2 onions – I finely diced, 1 halved then thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic and 2 red chillies ground to a paste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Handful of curry leaves (optional
- 1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
- 2 dried chillies (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cummin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1.5 cups rice
- 1 tspoon Saffron threads soaked in warm water
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
- Plain yoghurt
- Coriander to garnish
1. If using meatballs, Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius, use recipe to make the meatballs (but don’t make the chutney in that recipe! Just the meatballs) and cook meatballs for only 10 minutes or just until they are browned and sealed on the outside as they will cook fully in step blow.
2. While meatballs are cooking prepare other ingredients. Pound garlic and chillies, slice and chop onions and keep separated, chop tomatoes.
3. Par boil rice in salted water with saffron until half cooked. Drain and set aside.
4. In a heavy based casserole dish or pan, heat vegetable oil then add cinammon stick, diced onions, cummin seeds, dried chilli and curry leaves if using , cook slowly until onions go transparent.
5. Add garlic, chilli paste and cummin and turmeric to onion mixture and mix through over medium heat.
(6. If using mince, add mince to onions now and sauté until mince breaks up and Browns.)
7. Add tomatoes and green beans. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until tomatoes start to break down about 3-4 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup water if needed.
8. If using meatballs, add them now.
9. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes to allow meatballs to absorb flavours and sauce to thicken. If using mince, then simmer for an extra 5 minutes.
10. While mixture is simmering fry thinly sliced onions in butter or oil until golden brown and slightly caramelised.
11. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
12. In a ovenproof dish, preferably a deep dish with a lid, smear bottom and sides with some oil then add a layer of rice, then sprinkle with some onions, then add a layer of the meat and beat mixture, repeat until mixture and rice is finished. Reserve some onions for the top.
13. Pour 1/2 cup of water evenly across the dish. Cover dish with foil not touching onions, and place lid on top to seal.
14. Place in oven to cook rice and allow flavours to permeate through rice for about 20 minutes. Check to see that rice is cooked but still fluffy.
15. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with yoghurt, pickles and salad.
This version doesn’t give you the burnt crispy bottom that is traditional of Loobia Polow but this could be achieved by finishing the dish off by cooking in a pot on the stove for last step instead of in oven.