Cooking for Persian New Year - Sabzi Polo Ba Mahe

Try this recipe for Sabzi Polo ba Mahe (herbed rice with fish), a traditional Persian dish courtesy of Free to Feed chef, Tayebeh!

Cooking for Persian New Year

Learn how to make Sabzi Polo ba Mahe (herbed rice with fish), a traditional Persian dish with Free to Feed chef, Tayebeh!

Tayebeh is a chef for Melbourne's social enterprise Free to Feed . Originally from Iran she still celebrates the annual holiday here in Australia, gathering the Haft-sin and cooking a traditional dish, Sabzi Polo ma Bahe (herbed rice with fish).

Tayebeh has kindly shared her recipe for Sabzi Polo ma Bahe which you can make at home to celebrate Nowruz with family and friends!

Sabzi Polo ba Mahe (herbed rice with fish)


For the rice:

  • 3 cups rice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • ½ bunch coriander
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 tablespoon dried rose buds
  • ~1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ~2 teaspoons ground cardamon
  • 80gms butter

For the fish

  • 1 large snapper
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 100gms butter + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 40ml lemon juice
  • 1gm saffron
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 onion finely diced + 1 onion cut into thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup walnuts – chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 bunch coriander –finely chopped
  • ½ cup barberries (rinsed under cold water and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate paste


To cook the rice

  1. Wash rice and then soak in hot water for 2 hours, drain.
  2. Finely grind rosebuds in a mortar and pestle – set aside.
  3. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil, season well with salt.
  4. Add rice and cook until just soft, approx. 7-8 minutes.
  5. Wash and dry herbs and finely chop in a food processor – set aside.
  6. Add the herbs to the almost-cooked rice and cook for a minute.
  7. Remove the rice and herb mixture from stove and drain, rinse with cold water and drain well again.
  8. Melt 30gms of butter in the pan you used to cook the rice, add a layer of herb rice to pan.
  9. sprinkle with ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground rosebuds. Top with another layer of herb rice followed by more of the spices (in the same quantities as before). Repeat layering until all of the rice has been used.
  10. Sprinkle the last layer of rice with spices and dot with 50gms of butter cut into small pieces.
  11. Wrap the lid of the pan with a clean tea towel and place on top of pan
  12. Cook over low heat for 30 mins, or until rice is cooked.

To cook the fish

  1. Clean the fish, removing fins and any scales/blood.
  2. Using a knife, carefully cut inside the fish from belly to spine along the spine, to create a pocket for the herbs.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon butter with 40ml lemon juice until well blended.
  4. Season the clean fish with salt and pepper, then brush with the blended lemon and butter.
  5. Leave to marinate for 1 hour.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C.
  7. Bloom saffron in a couple of tablespoons of hot water.

Fish stuffing

  1. Fry onion in oil for a few minutes.
  2. Add turmeric and continue to saute over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Add walnuts and coriander into pan and continue to saute.
  4. Add barberries, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon bloomed saffron and pomegranate paste -stir to combine.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes.
  6. Place the filling inside the fish and secure the filling with toothpicks.
  7. Make several cuts in the fish, placing dobs of butter (about 50gms) into the cuts and  over the skin of the fish.
  8. Place the sliced onion in the middle of a large pan, place the fish on top of the onion and cook fish in preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
  9. After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and carefully flip fish over. Make a few cuts in this side of the fish and add 50gms butter.
  10. Return to the oven and cook further 20 mins, then remove from the oven and remove the toothpicks.

To serve

  1. Mix ¼ of the herbed rice with the remaining bloomed saffron.
  2. Place the rest of the rice on a serving dish and top with the saffron rice.
  3. Place the cooked fish on the side.
  4. Servie alongside pickles and a delicious Shirazi salad!
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