Iranian Foods


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Polo and Chelo, (Rice)

For generations, Iranians and the Near Easterners have used rice, or berenj, as a basic food. It is the daily staple for all, and the bread and the potatoes of Iran and her neighboring countries.
The Iranian farmer takes great pride in his rice fields and produces the most delicately flavored rice known. Most of the long- grain rice that is grown in Iran comes from the Caspian Sea area, the provinces of Guilan and Mazandaran, as well as the slopes of the Alborz mountains. A small quantity for local consumption is also grown wherever an abundant supply of water is available.
There are three well-known varieties of rice in Iran. First is Berenj-e Dom.siah, second Berenj-e Sadri, and third Berenj-e Champa, indicated in the order of their quality. Since rice is the daily food of the majority of Iranians, the Iranian housewife, through years of practice, has developed a special method of cooking the rice in order to preserve its entire natural flavor and produce a light and fluffy delicacy. She calls this fluffy rice polo or berenj, as is better known in the West. The more ways she knows how to prepare polo the better she has captured the art of cooking this delicate dish.
The preparation of polo is indeed an art, and the Iranians are the connoisseurs of this art. Although rice has been known. as the product of China and India, the only way the people of these countries know how to prepare rice is just by plain boiling. But Iranians, who have introduced the art of cooking rice to their neighboring countries, consider polo as the essence of an exquisite dinner, steaming it and using other various methods.
In Iran rice is served in two basic ways, either as polo or chelo. Chelo is the name applied to steamed white rice cooked separately and over which different types of sauces or meats are served. Polo, often called pilafin the West, is the name applied to rice with which other ingredients are mixed in the cooking process. Remember the following varieties when ordering in a restaurant:

Adas Polo, Rice with Lentils
Albalu Polo. Rice with Black Cherry Baghali Polo, Rice with Lima Beans
Chelo, Steamed Rice
Estanboli Polo, Rice with Tomato Sauce Gheisi Polo, Rice with Apricots
Havij Polo, Rice with Carrots
Kadu Polo, Rice with Pumpkin
Kateh, Cooked Rice
KeshmeshPolo, Rice with Raisins
Lubia Polo, Rice with String Beans
Morgh Polo, Rice with Chicken
Reshteh Polo, Rice with Noodles
Sabzi Polo, Rice with Vegetables
Shirin Polo, Sweet Rice
Sutti Polo, Rice with Milk
Tah Chin, Rice and Lamb
Tah Chin-e Esfanaj, Rice with Spinach
See also RESTAURANTS under Tehran, and WATER under Practical Information.