Estamboli Polow (Persian Tomato Rice)

Estamboli Polow is a delicious combination of rice, beef, tomato paste and potatoes. Some say that its name is taken from the type of potatoes that were used in original recipe which were called Istanbuli. But you can use any other kind of potato and it will taste equally delicious.

The recipe for Estamboli Polow varies from one region to another or even from one family to another. Some families make it with only rice and tomato, some add potatoes to it and some families add meat and green beans. In our family the kind with green beans and meat is called Loobia Polow  and the one with potato is Estamboli Polow.

The perfect side dishes to serve with Estamboli Polow are Mast Khiar (yogurt and cucumber dip) or pickles like Torshi Kalam (pickled red cabbage)

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Recipe type 

  • Beef Recipes
  • Rice recipes


  • Main dishes
ServesPrep timeCook Time
4 People 30m 1h


  •  2 Cups long grain rice (Basmati rice)
  •  1 medium onion, diced
  •  1 Pound ground beef
  •  3 medium potatoes
  •  2 Tablespoons tomato paste *or 6 tablespoon tomato sauce
  •  1 Teaspoon turmeric
  •  ½ Teaspoons black pepper
  •  ½ Teaspoons salt (for the meat)
  •  1 Teaspoon salt (for the rice)
  •  ¼ Teaspoons ground saffron dissolved into 4 tablespoons hot water
  •  ½ Teaspoons Persian advieh *optional
  •   water
  •   vegetable oil


Heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the diced onions until soft.

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Add the ground beef and stir until it’s lightly browned.

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Add salt, turmeric, pepper and Persian Advieh and mix well.

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Peel and cube the potatoes. Add them to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.

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Add tomato paste and mix well with meat and potatoes for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat and allow it to cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

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In a pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over medium heat. Pour rice into boiling water and allow it to boil until the grains are soft on the outside and hard in the middle.
Once rice is ready drain it in a colander and rinse with cool water.

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Put the pot back on medium heat and add 2 tablespoon oil and add a layer of rice.

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Then layer with some of meat and potato sauce and add half of the saffron water.

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Keep layering the rice and sauce ending with a rice layer. Add the other half of saffron water on top.
Reduce heat, cover the lid and cook for about 45-60 minutes.

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Serve in a platter with the crisp rice from the bottom of the pot (Tahdig).

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