Try the classic combination of shrimp and rice with a Persian twist. This dish is packed with delicious and warm Middle Eastern spices! Master this recipe by watching our video and step-by-step tutorial.
You've been raving about our Persian recipes and we are here with a few more! If you love mixed rice dishes such as Persian green bean rice (lubia polo), lentil rice (adas polo) and one pot tomato rice, you're going to love today's recipe. Meygoo polo, a.k.a. Persian-style shrimp and rice, is an easy recipe that you can make at home for a simple dinner or a Persian feast.
Why this recipe works
Shrimp is a common seafood in the southern region of Iran and you can find beautiful and plump shrimp in the Persian gulf. One of the most popular dishes made with shrimp in Iran is meygoo polo which translates to shrimp pilaf. It's a delicious rice and shrimp dish flavored with warm spices.
This recipe is an easy one and comes together pretty quickly since it calls for pre-cooked rice. In fact, you can even use leftover white rice.
I love this dish because of the addition of herbs and spices that differentiate this dish from every other way you've ever tried shrimp. It's perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a weekend meal enjoyed with family and friends.
- Rice - My preference is basmati rice or any other long grain rice. It smells and tastes so good. You need precooked rice for this recipe, therefore leftover rice would work well.
- Onion and garlic - The base of all the good flavors of this dish. I like to be generous with the garlic, but you can use less if preferred.
- Cilantro - You need some herbs for this recipe. The classic calls for fresh cilantro but if you're not a fan, use fresh parsley or dill.
- Ginger - To add a nice kick, I add a bit of freshly grated ginger. You can powdered ginger if fresh isn't available.
- Shrimp - Peeled and deveined raw large shrimp works best for this recipe.
- Tomato paste - To add some color and flavor. Make sure not to overuse it.
- Spices - Including turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper. This dish is supposed to be spicy so if you're not a spicy food fan, please use half of the cayenne pepper mentioned in the recipe or leave it out.
What kind of shrimp to use
First of all, make sure you're using raw shrimp and not pre-cooked. Secondly, I advise you to use frozen shrimp and thaw it right before cooking if you're not living in a coastal area where you can easily access fresh-caught shrimp.
The fresh shrimp you see at supermarkets are most definitely frozen shrimp thawed and then placed in the refrigeration cases. You can't really tell how long the shrimp has been sitting in the case so your best bet is to simply get frozen shrimp and thaw them as needed.
As for the size, large shrimp would work best for this recipe. You can remove the tails before adding the shrimp to the onion and garlic. I kept the tail on because it looked nicer, but you sure don't have to.
Prepare the rice
- Place the rice and water in a sauce pan or a pot and add oil and salt.
- Bring it to simmer and let it cook until the water is almost fully evaporated.
- Place the lid on and lower the heat. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
Prepare the shrimp
- As the rice is cooking, start making the shrimp. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Saute onion until golden. Add in minced garlic and saute for another minute.
- Add in chopped cilantro and cook for a minute. Stir in minced ginger.
- Now add the peeled and deveined shrimp to the onion mixture and cook for just a couple of minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste, turmeric, salt and cayenne. Cook for another couple of minutes until the shrimp is completely cooked through.
Mix and serve
- In a large serving plate, add a layer of rice and top with a layer of shrimp and onion. Continue until all the rice and shrimp is in the platter.
- Lightly mix the rice and shrimp using two forks. Serve immediately.
A small note: You can also mix the rice and shrimp in the same pan that you cooked the shrimp, as shown in the video.
Frequently asked questions
Traditionally, you are supposed to serve this shrimp recipe with basmati or white rice and I wouldn't serve it any other way. You can switch to brown rice if desired. If you are on a low-carb diet or just prefer to use cauliflower rice, you can do so; just be aware that the texture and flavor won't be exactly the same.
Yes, you can use leftover white rice or follow my instructions to make instant pot white rice.
One common issue with cooking shrimp is that shrimp can turn out tough and rubbery. Be sure not to overcook the shrimp if you want to avoid rubbery and tough shrimp. Shrimp usually need between 4 to 6 minutes to cook completely.
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan.
This recipe calls for tomato paste which gives it a subtle flavor and a nice color. Please don't substitute tomato paste with tomato sauce, canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes.
More Shrimp Recipes
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Persian Style Shrimp and Rice (Meygoo Polo)
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil divided
- 2 yellow onion finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 inch fresh ginger grated
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt more if needed
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper see notes
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
Prepare the rice
- In a sauce pan, add the rice, water, one tablespoon vegetable oil and salt.
- Bring to simmer and cook until the water is almost evaporated.
- Place the lid on and cook the rice for another 5 minutes on low heat.
- Turn the heat off and leave the rice covered and untouched for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, lightly fluff the rice using a fork.
Prepare the shrimp
- Heat one tablespoon vegetable oil in a pan and saute onion until golden brown.
- Stir in garlic and cook for a minute.
- Stir in ginger. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add in tomato paste, turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir well to mix the ingredients.
- Add in the shrimp and cook for a few more minutes until the shrimp is pink and fully cooked.
- In a platter, add a layer of rice and top with the shrimp and onion mix. Repeat until all the shrimp and rice is in the platter. (You can also add the rice to the shrimp and onion - as shown in the video - and mix in the pan if the pan is large enough)
- Using two forks, mix the rice and shrimp lightly.
- Serve immediately.
- You can use 1 teaspoon garlic powder instead of fresh garlic and ½ teaspoon dried ginger powder instead of fresh ginger.
- This dish has a spicy kick so if you don't like spicy food, please use less cayenne pepper or leave it out. If you like the dish to be spicier, add more cayenne pepper.
- One common issue with cooking shrimp is that sometimes it turns out tough and rubbery. Make sure not to over cook the shrimp if you want to avoid rubbery and tough shrimp. Shrimp usually needs between 4 to 6 minutes to cook completely.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan.
- This recipe calls for tomato paste which gives it a subtle flavor and a nice color. Please don't substitute tomato paste with tomato paste, canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes.