In my post for Kalam Polow Shirazi I shared that my relationship with cabbage was developed in my adulthood and that growing up I was not a fan. During that post I also shared that there are different versions of Persian rice with cabbage. Today’s post is the version that I had a couple of years ago with tomato sauce. This version was made by a lady who has a reputation for being a phenomenal cook. Let me tell you her Kalam Polow was so incredibly good that I could not stop myself from eating it. In fact, I went back for seconds and thirds!! With that said, it was also drenched in oil. We all have had those moments when we eat something that is so good and tasty while knowing that it can’t simply be good for us to eat something that has that much oil or butter.

I have to confess though, regardless of how good this version of Kalam Polow with Tomato sauce is, once you have had the Shirazi version it’s hard to go back to what came before it. Don’t get me wrong, the tomatoes and spices add a lot of flavor to this rice, however, the complexity of flavors that herbs bring to the Shirazi version is out of this world good!


1lb ground beef
1 onion
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp advieh
1 cabbage, equivalent to 6 cups shredded
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups rice
2 tbsp brewed saffron
salt & pepper

Shred cabbage or cut into thin 1 inch strips.

Saute cabbage in oil until cooked. Add Advieh and turmeric then mix well. Season with salt.

Dilute 3 tablespoons of tomato paste in 1/4 cup of hot water then add to cabbage. Mix well and cook until all liquids are absorbed.

First grate onion, squeeze out the excess moisture, then add to ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and make small meatballs about the size of hazelnuts.

Warm skillet then add meatballs. Depending on the amount of fat in the meat you can omit adding oil to the skillet, just make sure that is very hot when adding the meatballs. Cook until meatballs are cooked all the way through. At this point the juices will be released and once the meatballs are ready reserve the juices to add to the rice later.

Parboil rice based on directions in the post: Cooking Rice for Polow

To a non-stick pot add 2 tablespoons of canola oil and 2 tablespoons of water then shake the pot to mix them.  In a bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of brewed saffron and two spatulas of par-boiled rice. Mix the rice and brewed saffron then add to the bottom of the pot.

Add one third of the cabbage on top, then layer with one third of the par-boiled rice. Gently mix together the cabbage and rice each layer.

Continue layering until all the rice and cabbage is gone. Create five deep holes with the back of a spatula in the rice. Finish off by arranging the meatballs on top.

Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes.

If there were any juices left from when the meatballs were cooked, then evenly distribute 4 tablespoons over the rice. Otherwise, combine 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of canola oil then evenly distribute over rice. Wrap lid in a towel and cook on low for one hour.