Sabzi Polo/Polow, Traditionally served on New Year’s Eve or as the first meal of the Persian New Year, the fresh herbs in this dish symbolize rebirth and renewal as Nowruz is the arrival of spring.

Rice is quite ordinary in Iranian cuisine and serves as the centrepiece to many meals, like most other mix rice dishes, fresh herbs add a charm to its characterless.

A classic Persian mixed rice made with basmati rice steamed with chopped fresh herbs. which translates to “herb rice with fish”

Even though Sabzi Polo Mahi is a Persian New Year favourite in Iran now and everybody makes it, but bearing in mind back in the days, with limited transportation only those with access to bodies of water could have fish. This means the rest of the population must have prepared different dishes with the ingredients that were available to them in their own region. Some of those other foods that are prepared for Nowruz today are Kuku Sabzi, Ash Reshteh, Dolmeh Mo, Reshteh Polow, Baghali Polow. Which in most of those fresh herbs play a big part.

Sabzi Polo mahi, persian herb rice and fish for Nowruz

How to cook Sabzi Polo

#1 The first thing to do for this recipe is preparing the herbs by cleaning, washing and then finely chop them by hand. (This will help the rice to get more flavour and colour)

The traditional herbs used in this recipe are chives, coriander, parsley, and dill. It is very important to have a good ratio of herbs and rice. Use a minimum of one cup of chopped herbs per cup of rice.

  • You can use either fresh or dried herbs or even a mix of both.
  • A good addition to this dish would be fresh garlic steam with the rest of the herbs.

#2 Preparing rice comes second, start the same way you would for any other Persian rice dishes. Follow all the steps up to the point where rice grains are soft on the outside and still firm in the centre. drain in the colander and rinse under cold water.

#3 Place the pot back on the heat, add some oil into the pot and layer the bottom of the pot with the Tahdig of your choice I’ve used potato, But you can use flatbread. Lettuce leaves are most commonly used Tahdig for this dish.

herbs for Sabzi polo mahipersian herb rice and fish\

#4 With a large spatula place one thin layer of rice and sprinkle a generous amount of mixed herbs. Continue layering making sure that you end with a layer of rice on top. Or you can mix the rice with the herbs in the colander, And pouring it in the pot over the Tahdig all at once.

In order to release the steam make 4-5 holes in the rice with the bottom of a spatula.

#5 Pour some water around the edges and bloomed saffron over the pot, cover the pot lid with a clean kitchen towel and steam for 40 minutes, or until the steam rises, the rice grains are fluffy and the Tahdig is crispy and golden.

  • As I have always mentioned Wrapping the pot lid in a kitchen towel is essential for any Persian rice recipe as the kitchen towel would absorb extra moisture and steam which will result in fluffy rice.
  • For the steaming process, you have to start with medium-high in the first ten minutes and then turn the heat to low for the rest of the cooking time.

making fish for Sabzi polo mahi

It is customary to serve Sabzi Polow with Fish, however, you can serve it with other types of protein such as chicken or lamb.

Sabzi Polow can be prepared with a variety of different fish. The most common fish used in Iran would be Mahi Sefid (“white Fish” the Caspian Kutum) Some prepare it with salmon, sea bass or sea bream. The fish can be smoked, grilled, baked or fried, but as the rice is the star of the show, be sure to keep the fish simple and don’t overpower it with flavours. I used sea bream, seasoned with a mixture of cumin, coriander, turmeric and garlic powder, then fried in a little bit of oil.

To serve remove the pot’s lid, place a large serving platter over the pot. Hold the platter and the pot handles at the same time, flip and invert the rice onto the platter.

Most Iranians say that bergamot oranges (Naarenj) and Pickled garlic are essential Persian side dishes for Sabzi Polo Maahi.

Sabzi polo Mahi | Herb rice with fish

Sabzi Polo Mahi | Persian Herb rice with fish

Sabzi polo mahi or Persian herb rice with fish is a typical dish served on Nowruz, the Persian new year eve in Iran and by Iranians around the world.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Servings 4


  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander 
  • 2 1/2 cup longgrain rice Like Basmati
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch Grinded saffron dissolved in water


  • Clean, wash, dry and fine chop the herbs and mixthem together in a large bowl.
  • Par cook the basmati rice following the instructions in the notes.
  • Decide on the type of Tahdig for your bottom crust.Add vegetable oil to the pot and lay down the Tahdig (I used potato slices).
  • With a large spatula place the rice into the pot,place a layer of rice and then a layer of herbs, continue with the layering.
  • Make 4-5 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula to release the steam. 
  • Pour some water around the edges and bloomed saffron over the pot, cover and cook for 7-10 minutes on medium-high heat until rice is steaming, lower the heat, and steam the rice for 40 minutes onmedium-low heat.
  • Once the rice is cooked, take the lid off and put a platter on the pot at least 5cm wider than the pot on all sides and flip.
  • Brush a little oil on the crunchy golden Tahdig and serve it along with fish.


Check out the complete recipe for Persian rice