Cooking Persian Food: Dill, Fava Beans, and Rice with Lamb (Baqala Pollo)

Use dill and fava beans in your cooking by trying this Persian recipe

| October/November 1999

  • Adding lamb shanks baked with garlic, dill, and saffron water gives Baqala Pollo quintessential Persian flavor.
    Photo by Anybody Goes

Serves 6 to 8

Najmieh Batmanglij, author of New Food of Life (Mage, 1992), omits the lamb to make a meatless version of this dish. She recommends substituting frozen lima beans when fresh fava beans are out of season. To remove the bitter outer skin of fresh or frozen favas, blanch them in boiling water for about 20 seconds, drain, then chill in ice water, drain again, and pop the skin open at the indentation, squeezing the bean into a bowl.

• 3 to 3 1/4 pounds lamb shanks, cut in thirds
• 2 onions, thinly sliced
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 6 cups loosely packed fresh dill, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground saffron threads, steeped in 1/4 cup boiling water
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
• 3 cups basmati rice
• 4 quarts water
• 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 1/2 pounds fresh or 1 pound frozen fava beans, shelled, or 1 pound frozen baby lima beans, thawed
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
• 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
• Reserved saffron water
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 4 tablespoons oil
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/2 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. In a 3-quart baking dish, combine the meat, onions, half the garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the chopped dill. Add 1/2 cup water, the salt and pepper, 2 ­tablespoons of the saffron water, and the lime or lemon juice. Cover and bake for 2 hours.

3. Rinse the rice in warm water until the water runs clear; drain.

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