Sabzi Polo Mahi – Fish With Green Herbs

In Persian, sabz means green, and sabzi can refer to herbs or vegetables. Polo is a style of cooked rice, known in English more familiarly as pilaf.

For the rice:

4 Cups long grain basmati rice
4 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil [or butter]
1/2 Cup chopped Chives/Scallion stems (tarreh/piazcheh)
1-1/2 Cups fresh Parsley (jafaree)
1 Cup  fresh Coriander (gheshneez), or 4 Tbsp dried
1-1/2 Cups fresh Dill Weed (sheveed) or 6 Tbsp dried
1/2 Cup water

For the Fish:

1 medium-large whole white fish [halibut, cod, tilapia, etc.]
1 large onion
1 large bell pepper, and/or a few jalapeno peppers
1 head of fresh garlic peeled and finely chopped
2 Cups fresh chopped parsley (jafaree)
1/2 Cup fresh chopped coriander (gheshneez) or, 2 Tbsp dried coriander
1 package of dried tamarind (tamr-e hendi)


Cook the rice:

For best results, soak the basmati rice for a couple of hours in water and salt before cooking. Wash and drain the vegetables. Finely chop all the greens on a cutting board and make sure they are well drained.

Half fill a medium size pot with water; bring the water to a boil. Add the soaked rice and let it cook for a few minutes until it starts boiling. Stir the rice a few times during the boiling process. Occasionally test a few rice grains to see if they have softened. This should take between 15 to 25 minutes.
In the last few minutes of cooking, add the fresh chopped vegetables to the rice. Stir the rice one last time and then take it out and drain it in a kitchen colander.

Pour the oil in the pot, add 1/2 Cup water, and add 2-3 Tbsp extra olive oil or butter if necessary. Toss the rice, herbs and greens together in the pot with the oil and cook over low heat until heated through.

Cook the fish:
Place the tamarind paste in a bowl containing a cup of water. Knead the paste until the seeds separate from the dried pulps. Run the mixture through a kitchen stringer to separate the seeds from the resulting sauce. Set it aside.

Stir-fry the chopped onion, garlic and fresh peppers at first and then add the remaining chopped vegetables. Stir-fry for a few more minutes. Take it off the heat and set it aside.
Set the oven to bake at 350 degrees. Place the fish in an oven proof baking dish, add a touch of cooking oil, salt and pepper. Stuff the fish with the stir-fried vegetable mixture, and top with the tamarind sauce.

Cover the dish with a lid or with aluminum foil for 30 min, then remove and bake uncovered for another half hour.

By the end of the baking period, the outer layer of the fish should have a reddish color and the meat should be flake-tender to the touch of a fork. This stuffed fish is traditionally served as the Nowruz or Persian New Year’s dinner.