Persian Shrimp Rice with Herbs (Meygoo Polo)


By Roxana Begum


Persian shrimp and rice is so tasty, healthy and flavorful. With lots of herbs and spices, this is an easy recipe for a happy family dinner. Sneak in whole grains while keeping it tempting.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brown basmati rice, rinsed (or white rice)
  • ½ cup quinoa or rice 1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, adjust as needed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion large, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, large
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped ½ cup dill, chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup fenugreek leaves, chopped or
  • ¾ tablespoon dried
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅓ teaspoon saffron, powdered and dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

Instructions:

COOK RICE

  • Bring 3¼ cups water to a boil. Add ⅔ teaspoon salt and 1½ tablespoons olive oil. Add the brown rice first. Lower the heat, place a lid and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Then add quinoa and white basmati rice to the same pot. Cover and let it all simmer till the grains are well done (approx. additional 20 minutes).

    Tip: If you are not sure of the cooking times for rice and quinoa, then check instructions below for cooking them separately.

COOK SHRIMP

  • Heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil at medium setting in a cooking pot. Add chopped onions and sauté few minutes.
  • Then add grated garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are light golden brown. Add sliced red bell pepper and sauté. Next, add shrimp and sauté for a minute.
  • Then add curry powder, red pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, ⅓ teaspoon salt, the herbs, and stir it all.
  • It should need only a total of 4 to 5 minutes, until the shrimp start changing color and curl a little bit. Pick out the shrimp and set it aside.

    Tip: Do not over cook the shrimp.

ASSEMBLE SHRIMP AND RICE

  • Place the rice-quinoa mixture with the sautéed onion-herbs mixture in several alternating layers in a heavy bottomed cooking pot. Sprinkle lemon juice and saffron water over the final layer.
  • Raise the heat to medium high for about 10 minutes and then reduce it to low setting and simmer for about 20 minutes or more until the steam builds up well. Once the rice is ready, turn off the heat.
  • Gently serve the rice in a serving dish and arrange the shrimp all over. Garnish with fresh herbs.
  • Serve this rice with Persian tomato cucumber salad or Persian Yogurt Dip with Shallots, pickles or pickled olives.

ALTERNATIVE METHOD (Cooking Rice and Quinoa Separately)

  • Bring ¾ cup of water to a rolling boil in a sauce pan. Add ⅛ teaspoon salt and ½ tablespoon olive oil. Then add ½ cup brown basmati rice, stir and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, place a lid and allow it to cook until all the water is absorbed for about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Bring 1 cup of water to a rolling boil in a sauce pan. Add ⅛ teaspoon salt and ¼ tablespoon olive oil. Then add ½ cup quinoa, stir and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and allow it to cook until all the water is absorbed for about 20 minutes.
  • Bring 3 ½ cups of water and ¾ tablespoon salt to a boil in a cooking pot. Add the white basmati rice and let it boil at medium high to high heat for 5-6 minutes until the rice grains are soft. Make sure to stir the rice while it is cooking. Drain the rice well in a colander and set aside.

Notes

  1. Rice
    • Cooking times and water needed for rice may vary. Check package for instructions or test with a small quantity first.
    • If unsure about cooking times, try cooking white rice, brown rice and quinoa separately.
    • Quick cooking or parboiled brown basmati rice cooks much faster. Rinse the rice several times until the water is clear and not starchy.
    • Fluffy Rice: The amount of water added while cooking the rice is very important to the final texture of this dish. Keep in mind the additional moisture from shrimp, herbs and onions. So, in the first step, cook the rice to be fluffy, hold its shape well and is not too wet or delicate.
  2. Shrimp
    • It is safer to buy frozen shrimp than thawed in store. Be sure to weigh the shrimp after peeling.
    • If buying raw shrimp with heads-on, then about 35% of weight is lost after removing the heads. Removing the shell, lowers the weight further by 15%.
  3. You may use cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes. For milder rice use paprika.
  4. Frozen or dried fenugreek leaves are available at Indian grocery stores.
  5. Salt
    • Check for any added salt in spice mixes and other ingredients and adjust.
    • The sodium value for shrimp used was from the USDA national nutrient database which is based on retail market shrimp that typically come in contact with sodium solutions during processing. The sodium value may vary if using fresh untreated raw shrimp.

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