Iranian mixed rice | Polo | برنج مخلوط

Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 5 Mins Cook Time: 45 Mins Total Time: 50 Mins

The ultimate recipe for vegan Iranian mixed rice – برنج مخلوط. To achieve lightness and flavour, this traditional method parboils then steams the rice. With a layer of tahdig – crispy potatoes –  ته دیگ, you will be craving more with every mouthful.

Mixed rice fillings

This master Iranian mixed rice recipe allows you to try infinite variations with layers of filling between the rice. Typical of Iranian cuisine, fillings often focus on one main ingredient, tuning the herbs and spices accordingly to create a harmony of flavours. Here are some tried and tested fillings:

Fasolia – Green Bean Stew

Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi Giahi | herb rice with vegan tofu fish | سبزی پلو با ماهی گیاهی

Lubia Polo | لوبیا پلو | green beans, mince and rice

Layered rice and filling
Example filling of cabbage and vegan meatballs

You can also try adding ingredients throughout the rice layers for extra flavour and texture:

  • barberries
  • almonds
  • walnut pieces
  • raisins

If you do this, think about whether the ingredient complements the flavours of your chosen filling.

What is tahdig?

Tahdig is the crispy layer of fried food at the base of the pan, usually comprising of potatoes, rice or bread. Golden brown tahdig served intact is a traditional mark of a skilled cook in Iran. So you may find getting the tahdig from kitchen to table is a feat in itself with the sudden appearance of eager helpers who want a taste. You can practice cooking plain rice and tahdig using my Tahdig recipe.

This recipe uses potatoes for the tahdig, but you can replace with flatbread or just use rice. Please note that the rice-only option is very crispy, which some people love but some hate. So I recommend potatoes or flatbread.

Cooking tips

  • To check the rice is ready after parboiling, press between finger and thumb or bite. The rice should be slightly hard on the inside but soft on the outside.
  • After layering rice and filling, form a dome shape, pulling away from the sides to avoid burning. Make three holes with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to circulate.
  • Wrap a tablecloth around the pan lid to trap the steam.
  • Check the food is steaming without removing the lid (thus releasing the vapour) by flicking water on the side of the pan, it should sizzle.




0/5 Instructions
  • Parboil the rice (boil for less time than described in the packet instructions). Meanwhile, peel the potato and slice 1cm thick. Once the rice is cooked al dente, drain and rinse.
  • On a medium heat, cover the base of a deep pan with oil and 2 tbsp water. Once sizzling, you can momentarily take away from the heat for safety, tessellate the potato slices so that as much of the base is covered as possible. Chop up the remaining pieces to fit into gaps. You can place small extra pieces of potato on top but should generally stick to a single layer.
  • Sprinkle a quarter of the rice on top then alternately layer up the filling and rice three times. Build into a dome shape, pulling away from the sides of the pan after the potato layer to avoid burning. Add 5 tbsp water then make three holes using the handle of a wooden spoon in the centre of the rice, reaching down to touch the potato layer. Cover with a lid wrapped in a table cloth. Cook on high heat for 3 mins then on low for at least 30 mins.
  • While cooking, make liquid saffron by pouring half a cup of boiling water onto the saffron, leave for the flavours to infuse. Before serving, mix some rice into the liquid saffron. Melt the margarine in a microwave and pour onto the dish, then follow with the saffron-rice mixture. Replace the lid and leave to stand for a few minutes.
  • To serve, upturn the pot onto a large plate, with the tahdig ontop. Best enjoyed with vegan yoghurt and salad. Remember, the tahdig is always offered to guests!


Did you make this recipe? Tag @vegan_middle_east on Instagram or comment below.

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