Meigoo Polo | (Persian) Shrimp & Raisin Saffron Rice

Meigoo Polo (Persian shrimp rice) plated onto beautiful serving platter set on Persian carpet

Hi everyone! Before delving into our recipe post, I have to share the news that I cooked fesenjan for The New York Times as featured in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine cover story of “Diverse Holiday Feasts From Five New York Families.” It was a fun and exciting adventure and I’m going to write all about it in a future post. Meanwhile, to new readers finding your way from that article: Welcome! 

Meigoo polo (shrimp rice) — a unique Persian rice dish made with shrimp, raisins, walnuts and caramelized onions — is a delicious example showcasing the fond emphasize on seafood in the culinary traditions of the southern provinces of Iran.

My parents first had meigoo polo at the home of my aunt – a vivacious Kermanshahi beauty who married a doting Shirazi gentleman, moved to Shiraz, and seamlessly adopted the accent and all the ways & wiles of that fabled region to praised perfection. My mom got the recipe from my aunt and this unusual and unusually tasty mixed rice thereafter became a standard albeit special treat at our family dinner table.

Shrimp raisins walnuts caramelized onions mixed together in beautiful plate set on top of a Persian carpet

While meigoo polo looks suitably impressive and is a knockout when it comes to taste and culinary pleasure, it is actually a relatively easy dish to prepare if (and I know that’s a big “if”) you’ve already mastered making the Persian steamed white rice because all you’ll need to do is to either top or layer the rice (when serving) with the mixture of sauteed shrimp, walnuts, raisins and caramelized onions and give it a good dousing of butter. Amen, hallejlujah! Yum!  (If you need an intro for making Persian steamed rice, check out the detailed posts in the Persian Rice 101: How to Make the Perfect Persian Rice pictorial guide series.)

Meigoo polo (Persian shrimp rice) and beautiful Persian carpet

Now let’s not spend senseless time chit chatting when we could be making and digging into this tasty dish instead!

Meigoo polo | (Persian) Shrimp & Raisin Saffron Rice

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: Approximately 2 hours + prep time
  • Print

graphic icon illustration "Ingredients" recip

  • 1 pound cooked & peeled shrimp (or prawns)
  • 2 1/2 cups long grain rice (best quality rice you can find)
  • 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup black seedless raisins
  • a few pinches of ground saffron
  • a couple pinches of cinnamon
  • a pinch of cumin, a pinch of coriander powder and a hint of cardamom powder mixed together (advieh)
  • salt & pepper
  • cooking oil

graphic icon illustration "direction" recip

  1. Rinse rice with cold water a few times until the water runs clear. Soak rice in lightly salted lukewarm water for 1-2 hours. Drain and set aside. (Detailed instructions: Persian Rice 101: preparing, washing & soaking Persian rice.)
  2. In a large pot bring 4 quarts of water and 1/3 cup salt to a boil. Add rice and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, till the grains have lengthened and softened enough so that when you test-bite a grain it is no longer crunchy. (Skim foam as necessary, using a spatula.) Drain rice in a colander. Fill pot with a few cups of tepid water and douse over the rice in the colander. (This step helps to de-starch the rice.) Leave to drain.
  3. Rinse the pot you used to boil the rice. Layer the pot with 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup oil (plus an optional generous dab of butter.) Then, pour the rice from the colander into the pot. Using a spatula, taper rice to form the shape of a pyramid. With the end of a wooden spoon make a few holes in the rice pyramid. (Optional: sprinkle with a pinch of ground saffron.) Cover (ideally you should wrap the lid in a towel) and cook over medium heat until detecting steam – usually around 15-20 minutes. Lower heat and continue to cook for another 40-45 minutes on low heat – until done. (Detailed instructions:  Persian Rice 101 – How to Make the Perfect Persian Rice.)
  4. While waiting for the rice to cook: Heat 4 tablespoons of oil till sizzling hot, add onions, lower heat to medium high, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and allow to soften and golden for approximately 8-10 minutes. Set aside. (Note: Stir very infrequently and only when needed to prevent onion from burning, because over-stirring makes the onion release liquid.)
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil till hot, add walnuts, sautee on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. In the final minute, add raisins, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of saffron. sautee for one minute along with the walnuts. Set aside.
  6. In a skillet, heat butter till sizzling hot, add shrimp, sprinkle with a pinch of ground saffron, and sautee for 3-5 minutes. When done, season with salt and pepper to taste. Also add a pinch of cumin, corriander and a hint of cardamom powder. Stir to mix seasoning. (You should ideally complete this step just before rice is ready to be plated and served.)

graphic icon illustration "serving" recip

Plate the plain rice into a serving platter and form into the shape of a mound. Top rice with the caramelized onions, then the mixed walnuts and raisins, then the shrimp and finally douse rice with the butter left over from sauteeing the shrimp. (Alternative serving style: layer rice when plating with the mixture instead of using it as a topping.)

Eat it, enjoy it, and noosh ‘e joon!

Meigoo polo (Persian shrimp rice) with plate of tadig on Persian carpet

tahdig tadig crunchy bottom of pot in Persian rice making
noosh jan calligraphy illustration digital

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34 thoughts on “Meigoo Polo | (Persian) Shrimp & Raisin Saffron Rice

    • Thank you so much and oh yeah, this rice is dreamy! Kind of lush in the best way 😉 Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!

  1. fascinating! we never had shrimp in the house growing up, so this touches on an entire area of persian cuisine that’s totally foreign to me. looks delicious =)

    • It’s jonoobi cuisine, Tannaz joon, and am so glad to offer a perspective that’s new and interesting to you! 🙂 (It IS delicious, do give it a go.)

  2. Wow Azita, congratulations. Thats incredible about NYT, great article and love fesenjan, it’s been such a long time since I’ve had. Great pic of you and the family, I have never seen a Persian recipe that uses shrimp. This sounds wonderful.

    • Thank you thank you dear Suzanne! I believe this is one of the very few Persian recipes that uses shrimp (and almost all those recipes are from the southern provinces in Iran.)

      Fesenjan: akh jan! 😉 xoxo

  3. This is one of those dishes that I MUST make ASAP. Never had such a combinatin of ingredients in one plate and my dad is from Shiraz!! It really sounds so good & looks very appetizing. I should make it for him & see his reaction. Thank you.
    Love the NY times event. The Yalda night has such a romantic/nostalgique notion for me or perhaps all of us Persians so anything relating to it is a happy feeling. Congratulations on the beautiful work you did.

    • Hi hi hi! Sorry for belated delayed reaction … Hope you will make this for your dad! HOPE he’ll like it!!! Let me know? Thank you re article and totally hear you re Yalda and our reaction/response to it and a collective Persian food bloggers’ Yalda post is coming up I’m happy to report! xoxo

  4. How fabulous Azita – such a great article in the NYT! As always a beautiful feast laid out on the table… fit for Persian Royalty! and great to learn a little more about Persian culture.
    This polo sounds so very delicious too – an eclectic and luxurious mix of ingredients, flavours and textures.

  5. Oh, Azita. That is beautiful and you know I’ve been meaning to make a polo for sooooo long, but I’m afraid it takes too much time. I need to make this one. It’s gorgeous. So awesome re; NYT. I love Sam Sifton. Very cool! What a beautiful photo of you with your friends. So great to see. You really are impressive.

    • Thank you dearest Sophie! Sorry I’ve been MIA … running around like a chicken w/out a head so haven’t had the chance to indulge in reading my favorite blogs. I will be visiting soon and catching up. Hope all’s great! xo

  6. Oh my gosh, CONGRATS on cooking for the NY Times!!! That is so awesome (and well deserved, I must say!). This is a gorgeous dish. I am in love with your tablecloth… good thing I don’t live close by or it might suddenly disappear 😉 Hope that you are having a beautiful December so far xxx

    • Dearest Laura, thank you for the super sweet comment, really appreciate it. The tablecloth is … a Persian carpet. I wish it was a magical one would fly over and we would cook together and I’d definitely let you use it as a prop BUT I would take it back before it suddenly disappeared! 😉 Hope you’re having a great December as well and Happy Holidays!

      • Hahaha, oh wouldn’t that be wonderful? A magical Persian carpet prop. One of the hardest things about blogging is having beautiful friends who seem so close yet so, so far away. One day Azita, I will come and visit! Hugs xoxo

      • You HAVE to! We all have to. We just … have to! Whoever becomes a billionaire must buy tickets for the whole gang of us on WordPress

  7. I stumbled across your glorious blog looking for a pink Persian riff on popcorn to pair with matcha caramel popcorn in a salty-sweet Perso-Japanese mix and for my Hina-matsuri (Girls’ Day) party on Sunday (can’t wait!).

    Aside from cooking, another of my loves is table decorating and I’m totally smitten with your tablecloth/sofreh in these pics! Can I ask where you got it? If the design is particular to any city, I will add it to my list of must-visits for my next trip : )

    • Dear Saffron — Wow, Perso Japanes? Must know more! Please give me a holler if you post about the Persian riff on popcorn for your Hina matsuri (this all sounds fascinating to me!!!)

      I’ll tell you a secret. That is not a tablecloth. It is a very beautiful, silk Persian carpet that was purchased in Tehran (although I’m not sure in which city in Iran it was woven.) I loved the design and colors of it so I used it as the background!

      Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll come back again!!! 🙂

  8. Back again to report that the popcorn was a huge success!

    For the Persian part, I basically followed your recipe by feel (using however much popcorn resulted from 3 tbs of kernels), but since butter is a super luxury product at the moment here (costing about 3.20 USD for 200 g!), I improvised by adding a little baking soda to the melted butter to make more from less ; ) The Japanese part was melted butter, marshmallows and matcha dissolved in a little boiling water. The sweet and savory together were a treat : ))

    Here’s some information about Girls’ Day. The popcorn was my take on the pink-and-green hina-arare you can see in the picture at the bottom of the page. http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/cool/13-02-18/

    A-ha! I bought a lovely Qom silk carpet in Esfahan. Hadn’t thought of using it in blog pics! Yours reminds me of the beautiful tiles in the palaces in Shiraz.

    • Ooh, thank you for the report! Love the Girls’ Day festival. How beautiful! And I’m thrilled your improvised Perso Japanese pop corn was a success. I wish I could have tasted some. I’m very very very happy you wrote me back and told me the details. Thank you Saffron jaan and hope you’ll visit again! And hope you’ll tell me more Perso Japanese tales! 😉

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