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KALAM POLO کلم پلو
Preparation Time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves 4-5
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Persian
  • 1 pound cross rib roast or a similar beef roast (or lamb), cut into ½ - inch cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced small
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ½ TBSP tomato paste
  • ½ large green cabbage (about 1 ¼ pounds)
  • 3 ounces butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, finely sliced and fried to golden brown (or 3 ounces fried onions)
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the medium onion
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cayenne (optional)
  • 2 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ - inch thick
  • Pinch of saffron powder, for the potatoes (optional)
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • ⅛ tsp saffron powder (optional)
  • ⅛ cup hot boiling water, to dissolve the saffron powder
  1. Heat 3 TBSP oil in a large nonstick skillet and fry the sliced medium onion until golden brown. Remove the fried onions and set aside.You will use the same skillet to brown the cabbage.
  2. Meanwhile cut the cabbage to 1-inch cubes and separate the pieces with your fingertips.
  3. Heat 3 ounces butter in the large skillet over medium heat. Add the cabbage and saute over medium heat until rich golden brown. Stir frequently. This will take about 30 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat and add the fried onions to the browned cabbage. Add ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and the optional pinch of ground cayenne to the skillet, and mix to combine. Set aside.
  4. While browning the cabbage, add the cubed meat, diced onion, ground turmeric, ground black pepper and butter to a medium nonstick stockpot. Stir frequently and brown the meat over medium high heat until the natural meat juices are released. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 cup water and bring it to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to the mark between low and medium low, cover the pot and cook the meat for 20 minutes. Add 1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste, stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium, cover the pot and cook the meat in tomato sauce for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the meat and sauce to the skillet with cabbage and onion, toss to combine and set aside.
  6. Partially cook the rice in a 5-qt nonstick stockpot following my post, Persian Steamed Rice up to the point where the par cooked rice is rinsed under cold water and drained.
  7. Tip: In order to make sure you have enough potato slices to cover the bottom of the pot (also not to waste precious saffron), arrange the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the pot in a single layer without any space between the slices. Next, take the potatoes out and place them in a medium bowl and toss them with a pinch of saffron until uniformly yellow.
  8. Heat the 3 tablespoon vegetable oil and 3 tablespoon butter over medium heat in the nonstick stockpot.
  9. Arrange the potato slices in a single layer in the bottom of the pot.
  10. Add half of the par cooked rice to the pot covering the entire surface of the potatoes evenly. Sprinkle the rice with ½ teaspoon Persian Rice Spice.
  11. Add half of the cabbage and meat mixture to the pot and cover the rice.
  12. Add the remaining rice to the pot and cover the meat mixture. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon Persian Rice Spice.
  13. Add the rest of the meat mixture evenly over the rice. In a small bowl dissolve ⅛ teaspoon ground saffron powder in ⅛ cup hot boiling water. Drizzle the saffron mixture over the meat layer.
  14. Cover the lid of the pot with Damkesh or a large kitchen towel. Steam the rice over medium low heat for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  15. Remove the pot from heat. Remove the lid. Place a 12 inch or larger round platter over the pot and grab the platter and the pot with mittens and invert the rice onto the platter with the bottom side up.
  16. Serve immediately with Salad Shirazi, sabzi khordan (fresh herbs), or torshi (pickled vegetables)
The vegetarian method – Similar to most Persian recipes, Kalam Polo could easily be suitable for a vegetarian diet by leaving out the meat. Increase the cabbage (kalam) by half a pound (total of 1 ¾ pounds), fry the cubed cabbage and set it aside. In the same skillet fry a large thinly sliced onion with ½ teaspoon turmeric. Increase the tomato paste to 2 tablespoons and saute for 2-3 minutes with the fried onions. Add ½ cup of water, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper to the skillet and bring it to a boil. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Add the fried cabbage to the skillet, stir to mix. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the skillet and cook for 10 minutes. Follow the rest of the recipe substituting the cabbage mixture for the meat mixture.
Recipe by Persian Mama at