Albaaloo Polo Recipe – Rice With Sour Cherries & Meatballs
This dish is utterly divine. It is indulgent and sociable. Subtle in deliciousness due to the delicate spices used and none are so overpowering that it allows you to taste each spice individually. The rice becomes patchily stained by the juice of the sour cherries and the tadig (crust at the bottom of the pot) is fragrant and has a syrupy sweetness about it from the saffron and yoghurt. My husband tells me he can’t get enough of this meal and that the meatballs, that are delicately flavoured with turmeric, are like sweets!
I haven’t made this dish for years as traditionally it should be made when the first sour cherries are ready for picking in Iran. However, I was chatting to my dad and he casually dropped into conversation that he had made ‘Albaaloo Polo’ for my stepmother and it made my mouth water so I set about looking for some sour cherries to make this!
The problem, and it’s not really a problem, with Albaaloo Polo is thus, I get red stained fingers from preparing the cherries and a tummy ache from over eating it! Once I taste the first mouthful of this meal something happens and the glutton inside of me takes over and before you know it I am laying on the floor groaning and begging for a mint tea! So worth it though!
500 gm fresh sour cherries – pitted and washed (I use morello or sometimes I replace the cherries with barberries!)
100 gm sugar
4 cups of strong basmati rice – washed until the water runs clear
1 tsp cinnamon
500 gm minced beef
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves
1 small red onion
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1/2 tsp saffron ground with sugar
Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Add Water until the rice is covered by around half an inch of water on top. Add salt and 2 tbsp of olive oil and cook with the lid on until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the cherries to a bowl and cover with the sugar.
Mix the saffron with the yoghurt and pour into the bottom of the rice pan.
Start layering the rice on top, one layer of rice then one layer of cherries. After each layer of cherries add a sprinkling of cinnamon. Repeat this step until all of the rice and cherries had been used. Place the lid back on the pot and cook for 40 minutes.
Whilst the rice is cooking, make the meatballs. Place the meat, garlic, onion, turmeric, salt and pepper into a food processor and blitz until smooth. bring a heavy bottomed pan on to the heat, add some olive oil and start rolling the meatballs into 1 penny sized balls. Place in the pan and fry off until browned. Place in a heated oven (around 180′ C fan) whilst you brown off all of the meatballs.
When the rice is cooked, transfer to a plate and decorate with the meatballs and pistachio slivers. I eat this with some fresh salad and mast-o-khiar!
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