Sunday 24 December 2023

My Persian Palau

My Persian Palau

The kheema no palau prepared by some Parsi families inspired this recipe. Some served palau with khichri, while others served it plain. It was served with yoghurt, raita, or kudhee. A radish and carrot salad is served alongside poppodums and a doryu onion salad (finely sliced onions dipped in tamarind-jaggery chutney).

I was constantly thinking about the rice platter that would be served at my annual Navroze feasts. I enjoy experimenting with new recipes, and this was one of them: a Persian fusion of ground meat seasoned with Parsi and Persian spices, saffron-infused rice, and sumac or zereshk with dill or parsley to finish. While parsley will most likely be a better match for the meat, I prefer dill and used that instead.

This recipe is ideal for feeding a large group.

Serves 16

1kg/ 2.2lb ground meat of beef or lamb

4 tbsp whole milk

2 large veal bones with marrow in it

1 ½ tsp salt

1 cinnamon stick

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp advieh powder

pinch of brown sugar

Juice of 2 limes or lemons

500gm/ 1.1lb fried, crushed onions

4 cups meat broth

4 cups rice + 8 cups of chicken stock

1/2 tsp crushed saffron infused in hot water

125 gm/4 oz salted melted butter

1 cup zereshk -barberries - washed

1 tsp sumac powder

A cupful of washed chopped fresh dill sprigs or finely chopped fresh parsley

The meat

In a pan, sauté the ground meat until nice and brown; it will be dry-looking. Keep adding a little milk to keep it moist. Once cooked for about 10 to 15 minutes, add 4 large veal or lamb bones for flavour. Keep cooking it to catch the colour and caramelise it.

Season with salt and add the cinnamon sticks, tomato paste, ginger and garlic paste, turmeric, cinnamon, and advieh powders, sugar, and the browned onions. Mix well, and add the stock. Bring this to a boil, cover with a lid, and cook for 45 minutes.

Squeeze the lemons over the meat and mix well. The liquid should be gone, leaving moist meat as a result. Let this cool off while you make the rice.

The rice

Cook the washed rice in stock. Overturn immediately on a flat platter and toss the

rice with the infused saffron and melted butter. Gently toss in the zereshk, sprinkle the

sumac and fresh dill. Toss it gently. Remove a third of the rice to mix with the meat.

and finish off the dish with the remainder of your rice on top. Tightly cover and steam

on a bain-marie for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with a side of yoghurt mixed with cucumber and fresh mint and a pinch each of salt and sugar. similar to the Persian Maast-O-khiar, which would use dried mint instead.


Mixing the rice and meat with your hands will prevent it from breaking.

Use a large, deep, roasting pan or silver foil.

Photo credit Niloufer Mavalvala

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Vegetarian Parsi, inspired by tradition is an award winning cookbook. It was published by Spenta Multimedia India and is available on Amazon India and through email order at

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

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