Lamb Shanks with Persian Saffron, Peas and Dill Rice | Nokhod Polo ba Mahiche |

Nokhod Polo ba Mahiche

Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Keyword lamb, lamb shanks, mahiche, nokhod polo, peas and dill rice
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 4 people


For the lamb shanks (Mahiche)

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste

For the rice (Nokhod Polo)

  • 600 g basmati rice (3 cups)
  • 1400 ml water (6 cups)
  • 180 g frozen peas (2 cup)
  • 30 g dried dill (1 cup) or 1 large bunch fresh dill
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 4 tbsp ghee or butter
  • salt to taste



  1. Skin off the onion and garlic. Finely chop the onion and slice the garlic cloves.

  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan. Fry the lamb shanks from all sides over high temperature until they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn yourself. Transfer them into the pan you want to cook them in.

  3. Fry the onions in the same oil you fried the lamb shanks in. If there is too much char in the pan, I first remove the oil with a tablespoon, clean the pan, and then transfer the oil back into the pan.

  4. Fry the onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and fry them together for another 3 minutes or so. The onions are ready when they are golden brown.

  5. Transfer the fried onions and garlic into the pan with the meat, together with the peeled carrot and bay leaves. Add about 350ml/1.5 cups freshly boiled water, or enough to cover half of the lamb shanks.

  6. Put on the lid and let the lamb shanks cook over medium to low heat.

  7. After 1h turn the lamb shanks, and add the tomato puree, turmeric, black pepper, and salt. Put the link back on and let them simmer for another hour.


  1. Once the lamb has been cooking for about 1h and 15 minutes start preparing the rice.

  2. Wash the rice by transferring it to a pan, adding water, moving it around with your hand, rinsing the water, and repeating these steps 3 to 4 times.

  3. Cover the rice with 1400ml/6 cups of cold water and salt it generously. Add 2 to 4 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil and bring it to boil over medium heat. Once holes start forming in the rice as shown in the picture, add the frozen peas and dried dill.

  4. Give it a quick stir, then pour in the saffron water in at least four different spots. The yellow saffron rice will show when you cut the ‘rice cake’ into slices. It also gives the rice amazing fragrance and taste.

  5. Now reduce the temperature to low and put on the lid. You can cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel to absorb even more moisture from the rice. Let it slowly cook for about 40 minutes. The longer you leave it, the darker and crispier the tadig (rice crust). But be careful not to burn it!

  6. When you’re ready to serve, you can shock the outside of the pan with cold water. This will help your rice to slide out of the pan effortlessly. Wearing oven gloves put an upside down plate on top of the pan, hold the plate and pan with both hands (thumbs facing you), and carefully flip them around. The pan should come off easily.

  7. Serve with the lamb shanks, the flavourful sauce, and creamy yogurt. Enjoy!