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The Hungry Nomad: Recipe: Kalam Polow Shirazi (Cabbage herbed rice with meatballs)

November 24, 2012

Recipe: Kalam Polow Shirazi (Cabbage herbed rice with meatballs)

Kalam Polo Shirazi (from the region of Shiraz) was introduced into the family by my father. His love for this fragrant Iranian rice dish dated back to his childhood where it was a popular dish made by my grandmother.  Years later he had to ask around in order to obtain the recipe that was best made by my grandmother. He perfected the recipe and would make it whenever feeling nostalgic or missing his mother. I had never attempted to make Kalam Polow until recently I had a major unexpected craving for it. I think I just missed my father and thought by making his signature dish I'd fill the void brought by the distance. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to find white cabbage and had to use red cabbage. It has to be made with red cabbage but I can't say it tasted too different and the Count and I really enjoyed the rich flavors and colorful dish that resulted from using red cabbage. 
Note: if you grew up hating cabbage. Don't worry as this dish will make you change your mind. I myself am not a big fan of cabbage but when eating it in this dish- it tastes delicious. 


2 cups of rice
4 cups of shredded white cabbage
1onion (grated)
1 lbs ground beef
1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 cups of fresh parsley
2 cups of fresh cilantro
2 cups of chives
2 cups of Persian basil
1/2 cup tarragon
1 cup fresh dill (or dry dill)
salt and pepper 
olive oil 


1. Grate onion into small pieces, remove the onion juice. Mix the onion with the ground beef. Add salt and pepper and turmeric and mix with the meat and onions. 
2. Roll small pieces of meat mix into meatballs. You want the meatballs to be on the smaller side. 

3. Cook meatballs in a lightly oiled pan. 

4. Shred white cabbage into small pieces (here I've used red but again please use white)

5. Saute shredded cabbage in a slightly oiled pan until cooked. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of turmeric. 

6. Chop all the herbs into small fine pieces. 

7. Mix the herbs with the sauteed cabbage and add to the meatballs. Turn heat off. 

8. Place mix aside while preparing your rice. 

9. When your rice is ready, remove from pan. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add layers of thinly sliced potatoes. Add one layer of rice and another layer of mixture. Continue layering and gently mix pot to mix the ingredients together. Finish with a thin layer of rice. With the bottom of your spatula make several holes in your rice layer without touching the bottom of the pot. This allows the steam to reach the top. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat (so that the potatoes don't burn). 

10. Serve with rice and pickled torshee. 

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