Baghali is Farsi for Fava Beans and in Azeri it is Pakhla. When you mix the amazing Persian steamed rice with baghali and shevid (dill), it is called Baghali Polo. If you have ever tasted green fava beans you know how delicate and buttery they are. The taste is like no other bean and when it is paried with the subtle and pleasant flavors of dill and Basmati rice, this ever popular delicious rice is created. Baghali Polo is fluffy and full of flavor and it complements a variety of meats such as chicken, turkey, lamb or beef; stewed, braised, or grilled! Today I’m preparing my favorite rice with tender, delicious chicken cooked in saffron tomato sauce, or Baghali Polo ba Morgh, or chicken with fava bean and rice.
[[Photo Credit: Shared according to CC licensing from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpck/]]
Fresh green fava beans are available for a short few weeks in mid to late spring. This time of year in Iran the produce bazaars have fresh fava beans in pods and most stores give you the option of buying and cleaning the fava beans yourself, or for a minimal fee (by Western standards) the store owner will have them cleaned and delivered to your door within a couple of days. The process of cleaning the fresh fava beans is a time consuming task which involves, first removing the pod to expose the beans, then removing the outer skin of the beans (the beans above have the skin) before cooking them. This is one of those time saving and fairly inexpensive services that is available in Iran, among many other, that I find most intriguing when I visit there.
Please follow the instructions for making the Persian Steamed Rice up to the point where rice grains are soft on the edges and firm in the center. Add the fava beans to the boiling water with rice and bring it to another boil and then drain in the colander and rinse under cold water. Heat the oil and butter in the pot and cover the bottom of the pot with lavash pieces, then layer the rice and fava bean mixture with fresh chopped dill or dried dill. Sprinkle the top with optional saffron. Cover the pot with damkesh or a kitchen towel and steam for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the steam rises, the rice grains are tender and the Tahdig is crispy and golden.
Cook the chicken pieces with turmeric, salt, pepper, onion halves and water until tender. Discard the onion halves.
Sprinkle the optional saffron over the chicken pieces and use the back of a spoon to rub it all over the top. This gives the chicken a very rich color using very little saffron, but you may add more if you wish so.
Fry the sliced onions, add the tomato paste and saute until aromatic and add it to the cooked chicken.
Cook the chicken pieces in tomato sauce for 30 minutes, then turn and let the other side cook in the sauce for 30 minutes.
To serve Baghali Polo ba Morgh use a spatula to transfer the steamed rice to a serving dish and arrange the chicken pieces around the rice. The Tahdig should release very easily, break it up to pieces so everyone can help themselves to this delicious treat.
and see for yourself why the Tahdig (bottom of the pot) is the best part of any pot of Persian rice. Enjoy Baghali Polo ba Morgh with a piece of Tahdig on the side.
UPDATE: Variation: Sometimes substitute peeled Edamame Beans (green soybeans) for Fava Beans in this recipe for a delicious way to add nutritious Edamame Beans to your diet and see what you think! (Pictured below)
- 3 pounds skinless chicken drumsticks or thighs (about 6 large)
- 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half
- 2 ½ cups cold water
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin and fried to golden brown (4 ounces fried onions)
- 3 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the onion
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp optional saffron powder
- Extra water, as needed
- FOR THE RICE- (PLEASE FOLLOW THE COMPLETE INSTRUCTIONS FOR PERSIAN STEAMED RICE)
- 2 ½ cups Basmati rice
- Salted water for boiling the rice
- 14-16 ounces frozen or fresh green fava beans
- 1 cup chopped fresh dill or ⅓ cup dried dill
- 4 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 TBSP butter
- Lavash pieces for Tahdig
- Dash of saffron, sprinkled on top of the rice before steaming (optional)
- Add the chicken pieces, water, onion halves, turmeric, salt and pepper to a 12-inch nonstick skillet (the chicken pieces will be in a single layer). Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam from the top. Reduce heat to medium low, cover the skillet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken is no longer pink inside and fork tender. Discard the onion halves
- Meanwhile in another skillet fry the sliced onions in 3 TBSP of vegetable oil until golden brown. Add tomato paste and saute for another 3-5 minutes over medium low heat until aromatic. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the top of cooked chicken pieces with the optional ⅛ tsp saffron and use the back of a spoon to smear it on the surface. This will give chicken a rich saffron color as it cooks without using too much saffron; mix a few drops of the broth with saffron if needed.
- There should be about 1½ inches of broth in the skillet at this point. Add extra water if needed.
- Add the fried onion mixture to the skillet and stir to mix it with the broth. Add fresh lemon juice and bring it to a boil.
- Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces and continue to simmer covered for another 30 minutes until very tender. Serve over Baghali Polo.
- To make the Baghali Polo (Fava Bean and Dill Rice):
- Please follow the instructions for cooking the Persian Steamed Rice.
- After about 7 minutes of boiling in salt water, when the rice is firm in the center and tender on the two ends, add the fava beans to the pot. Bring the water to another boil and then immediately drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
- Heat the oil and butter in the nonstick pot, cover the bottom of the pot with lavash or tortilla pieces.
- Add ⅓ of the cooked rice and fava bean mixture over the lavash. Sprinkle with ⅓ of the fresh or dried dill. Repeat 2 more times until you have used up all the rice mixture and dill. Sprinkle the top with the optional saffron. Cover with a kitchen towel or Damkesh and steam over medium low heat for 45 minutes to one hour, or until steam rises, the rice grains are tender, and the Tahdig is crispy and golden.