Persian New Year Sabzi Polow: The Foraging Edition

sabzi polow

Are you celebrating Persian new year? Sabzi polow on the menu? This persian fragrant rice is packed with fresh herbs so I thought: why not make a version with foraged wild vegetables? The recipe is completely vegan – some versions I found had butter while others had oil; I chose oil.

The Backstory

I was reading on twitter about Persian new year and, more specifically, a New York Times article about it. The article mentioned foraging so that gave me the inspiration to go on a quick foraging trip in my neighbourhood and come up with my own version of sabzi polow with fresh wild herbs. Sabzi polow is a symbolic dish representing prosperity and rebirth.

The first herb I picked was Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) and I was off to a great start. Alexanders has a complex flavour, with hints of fennel and celery.

The original sabzi polow recipe calls for dill, coriander, parsley and chives. In my version, alongside some parsley I got from the supermarket, I picked some purple dead nettle, wild chives (or field garlic), some sow thistle (Sonchus) and, as I mentioned, Alexanders. Of course this recipe will never be as authentic as the original, but some of the flavours will taste similar. As I was chopping all the fresh herbs, the whole kitchen was invaded by fragrance. I hope you’ll have as much as a pleasant sensory experience when you prepare this recipe in your own kitchen, too.

Sabzi Polow Recipe

Serves 2 people


160 gr Basmati rice

1 bunch wild chives

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch Alexanders

1 bunch sow thistle

a few purple dead nettle tops

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon turmeric powder



In a bow, soak the rice in hot salted water for at least an hour. Drain well.

In a non-stick pot, boil water and then add the drained rice. Cook on a high heat for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, wash all the fresh herbs and chop them finely. It will take a while so grab a few strands, pinch them together, roll them up and chop them. Repeat until everything is chopped.

Drain the rice after 10 minutes of cooking. Wash the pot and drain it.
Put it back on the stove on a medium heat and add two tablespoons of oil. Add the rice without moving it inside the pot. Add all the chopped herbs and a sprinkling of turmeric. Make five holes in the rice with a spoon or spatula to allow the steam to escape from the bottom of the pot. When you see some steam coming up, reduce the heat to low, add another two tablespoons of oil and 100 ml of water. Cover with a lid and cook gently for approximately 45 minutes.

You can serve the rice as an accompaniment for any other dish or on its own with some salad.