#Loobia #Polow with Indian #meatballs

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

Ingredients:

    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
    Salt
    2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
    Plain yoghurt
    Coriander to garnish

Method

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.

Persian inspired Lamb Shanks with paprika, saffron and rosewater

This is my version of Persian lamb shanks slow cooked in a mixture of lime juice, orange juice, rosewater, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, paprika, pepper, thyme, garlic and saffron. The combination of spices and citrus permeates the lamb and the resulting dish is fragrant and delicious.

Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients, the end result is worth the preparation and slow cooking.

We had these with a spinach salad with orange segments and pomegranate seeds which complemented the flavours of the lamb perfectly. It would also go well with Caramelised Brussel Sprout, spinach and pomegranate salad.

A definite new favourite winter comfort food dish!

Preparation time: 1.5 hours Cooking time: 2-2.5 hours

Ingredients:
4 frenched lamb shanks

Powdered/ ground spices:
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Fragrant mix:
2 teaspoons saffron threads
1 teaspoon rosewater
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of half an orange
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup warm water

Braising ingredients:
1 litre chicken stock
4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 large onion finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil

Garnish:
Chopped mint, parsley and/or coriander, and extra orange zest

Method:

1. Place lamb shanks in a large bowl and add powdered and ground spices. Using rubber gloves thoroughly rub spices into lamb shanks and allow to marinade for at least and hour.

2. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

3.Put saffron threads in seperate bowl and add 1/2 cup warm water, rosewater, lime juice, orange juice and let this infuse for at least ten minutes.

3. Chop onions, finely slice onions, and strip thyme leaves off stems.

4. Heat oil in large casserole pot, brown lamb shanks 2 at a time ensuring a nice “crust” forms and set aside.

5. Remove excess oil from pot, leaving only a thin layer of oil to cook onions and garlic in.

6. Sautée onions and garlic over medium heat, adding salt to mixture, cook until soft and translucent.

7. Add bay leaves, thyme, orange and lime zest and add back lamb shanks and mix through.

8. Cover lamb shanks with hot chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer on stovetop for 10 minutes.

9. Cover pot with lid in pre-heated oven for 2-2.5 hours until lamb is tender and falling off the bone.

10. Remove lamb shanks from pot and set aside in cooling oven.

11. Strain stock mixture that is left in the pot and return strained sauce to pot to reduce to a thick jus.

12. You can serve shanks as is with jus poured over or shred the lamb and serve with jus on the side. Garnish with parsley or coriander and serve with rice and/or couscous and salad.