Polo is an Iranian rice dish traditionally including cinnamon, turmeric, other aromatic spices, and dried fruits. Meat is optional, but fish, chicken and lamb are the most common proteins. Variations of polo have made it to other regions and have been renamed. In
I stumbled upon a recipe for Persian polo searching randomly through cookbooks for dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever had a rice dish with the name polo attached to it. I’ve certainly have had pulao, pilaf, paella, and purloo, so I knew sort of what I was in store for. This dish surpassed my expectations with the meaty seitan really rounding out the dish into a meal, the prunes and apricots bursting with sweetness, and the cinnamon and onions leaving my house smelling like Thanksgiving dinner.
Persian Layered Seitan Polo
Adapted from a recipe in The Essential Rice Cookbook
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1 onion, finely chopped
20 ounces seitan, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper
1/2 cup pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 cups spinach, blanched
2 cups basmati or long grain rice
- In a large saucepan, melt 1/4 stick of butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add seitan, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, prunes, and apricots, then pour in enough water to cover the seitan. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the seitan stew simmer while preparing the rice.
- Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring 3 3/4 cups of water with remaining 1/4 stick of butter and pinch of salt to a boil. Add 2 cups of rice. Return to a boil, cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then turn off burner, keeping lid on, and steam for another 5-10 minutes, or until rice is tender.
- In a large, heavy-based casserole dish or pan with a lid, spread half of the rice over the bottom of the dish, top with spinach, then stewed seitan, and finally the remaining rice. If the rice is dry add a few tablespoons of water. Cover with the lid and steam over low heat for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed some of the juices from the stewed seitan.