Shrimp rice is so delicious, healthy and easy. This Persian style rice with lots of herbs and spices, makes a happy family dinner. Sneak in whole grains while still keeping it tempting!
Shrimp and Rice Recipe (Persian Style)
Combine shrimp and Persian technique of making rice, and you have nothing but sheer magic. Everyone loves both shrimp and rice. So this one is a sure winner!
Having grown up in a rice eating culture, I know very well how rice eaters can be choosy about rice. Try to convince them to eat only brown rice for health and it will often not work.
I experimented with a neat trick - substitution of white rice partly with whole grains (brown rice and quinoa). The long white basmati rice grain texture still remains dominant, retaining much of the familiar taste aspect of the dish. That is at least half the battle won, right?
If you are a rice lover, you may also like our popular Green Bean Rice.
What is Meygoo Polo?
Persian shrimp rice, also known as Meygoo polo is a perfectly flavored rice with plump shrimp, fluffy rice, herbs and spices. It is the combination of the herbs and spices that give this dish its distinct taste.
Shrimp Rice Ingredients
This amazing rice recipe uses easily available ingredients.
- Rice (white basmati, brown basmati), Quinoa (can substitute with rice).
- Shrimp (jumbo variety will work well).
- Onions, Garlic, Red bell pepper.
- Spices - curry powder (mixed spices), red pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, saffron (suggested).
- Herbs - cilantro, dill, green onions, fenugreek leaves.
- Lemon juice, Oil and salt.
How to Make Shrimp Rice
- Cook the rice and quinoa together in lightly salted water with some oil.
- Sauté onions, garlic, sliced bell pepper. Add shrimp and sauté.
- Add all spices, herbs and some salt.
- Pick out the shrimp and set aside.
- Layer the rice-quinoa with sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle oil, saffron water, lemon juice and steam it all together.
- Serve the rice with shrimp arranged on the top.
- Cook the white rice, brown rice and quinoa separately if you are not sure about cooking times for your product. Instructions in notes section of recipe below.
- Always check package for cooking times or test it out with a small quantity first.
- Quick cooking or parboiled brown basmati rice usually cooks in the same time as white basmati. So they can be cooked together for a quicker recipe.
- Shrimp in the market is most often previously frozen, except in certain coastal areas. It is safer to buy frozen shrimp than thawed in store.
- Be sure to weigh the shrimp after peeling. If buying raw shrimp with heads-on, then about 35% of weight is lost after removing the heads. Removing the shell, lowers the weight further by 15%.
- Frozen or dried fenugreek leaves are available at Indian grocery stores.
- You can cut the vegetables ahead of time. Peel the shrimp and refrigerate.
- Cook the rice and quinoa a day ahead, although it is not ideal. Likewise cook the onion-herb mixture and keep it ready.
Keep shrimp rice in refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. You can freeze it for 2 to 3 months. Thaw and reheat the rice, with a sprinkle of water. Add thawed shrimp in the last 2 minutes and cook until warmed through.
This Persian shrimp and rice recipe is gluten free, high-protein, egg free, soy free, dairy free, and nut free.
- Low Carb: Make it lower carb by using cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.
- Low Sodium: This is a great recipe for making it low-sodium because it is already so full of flavor with herbs and spices. Increase the amounts of aromatics if needed.
- Flavor Twist:
- You may use cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes. For milder rice, use paprika.
- Add some fresh ginger or dry ginger powder for a flavor twist.
Persian Rice Crust (Tahdig)
Traditional Persian rice recipes include the preparation of a rice crust in the bottom of the pan. If you would like to try that, check the instructions in this recipe - Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Prunes.
I like to try different dishes with this Persian style rice. Salads such as Kachumber or Moroccan Carrot Salad. Yogurt based sides - Eggplant Yogurt Salad or Chickpea Fatteh.
Soups to try are Red Lentil Soup or Leek and Avocado Soup.
By the way, I do have lots of Persian salads and soups to choose from as well.
This shrimp rice is full of antioxidant and nutrient rich herbs and spices. It also uses a blend of white rice, brown rice and quinoa making it healthier while still keeping it very tasty.
The amazingly delicious shrimp are a good source of nutrition. Low in calories, rich in protein, selenium (supports antioxidant activity) and vitamin B 12. They are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, phosphorus, choline, copper and iodine.
Previously, shrimp were not recommended for those with high levels of blood cholesterol. However, research now says that blood cholesterol levels are more influenced by saturated fat intake rather than dietary cholesterol. And shrimp are pretty low in saturated fat.
That said, those who have high blood cholesterol levels, should follow their healthcare professional's personalized diet advice tailored to the specific situation. Also, keep in mind that some people may be allergic to shrimp.
More Shrimp Recipes
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Shrimp Rice with Herbs (Meygoo Polo)
- 1 cup Basmati rice rinsed, or brown rice
- ½ cup brown basmati rice rinsed, or white rice
- ½ cup quinoa or rice
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust as needed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion large, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic large
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon curry powder or advieh (Persian spice blend)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup cilantro chopped
- ½ cup dill chopped
- ½ cup green onions chopped
- ¼ cup fenugreek leaves chopped or ¾ tablespoon dried
- 1 pound raw shrimp cleaned and deveined
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ⅓ teaspoon saffron powdered and dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
- Bring 3¼ cups water to a boil. Add ⅔ teaspoon salt and 1½ tablespoons olive oil. Add the brown rice first. Lower the heat, place a lid and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Then add quinoa and white basmati rice to the same pot. Cover and let it all simmer till the grains are well done (approx. additional 20 minutes). Tip: If you are not sure of the cooking times for rice and quinoa, then check instructions below for cooking them separately.
- Heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil at medium setting in a cooking pot. Add chopped onions and sauté few minutes.
- Then add grated garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are light golden brown. Add sliced red bell pepper and sauté. Next, add shrimp and sauté for a minute.
- Then add curry powder, red pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, ⅓ teaspoon salt, the herbs, and stir it all.
- It should need only a total of 4 to 5 minutes, until the shrimp start changing color and curl a little bit. Pick out the shrimp and set it aside. Tip: Do not over cook the shrimp.
ASSEMBLE SHRIMP AND RICE
- Place the rice-quinoa mixture with the sautéed onion-herbs mixture in several alternating layers in a heavy bottomed cooking pot. Sprinkle lemon juice and saffron water over the final layer.
- Raise the heat to medium high for about 10 minutes and then reduce it to low setting and simmer for about 20 minutes or more until the steam builds up well. Once the rice is ready, turn off the heat.
- Gently serve the rice in a serving dish and arrange the shrimp all over. Garnish with fresh herbs.
ALTERNATIVE METHOD (Cooking Rice and Quinoa Separately)
- Bring ¾ cup of water to a rolling boil in a sauce pan. Add ⅛ teaspoon salt and ½ tablespoon olive oil. Then add ½ cup brown basmati rice, stir and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, place a lid and allow it to cook until all the water is absorbed for about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Bring 1 cup of water to a rolling boil in a sauce pan. Add ⅛ teaspoon salt and ¼ tablespoon olive oil. Then add ½ cup quinoa, stir and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and allow it to cook until all the water is absorbed for about 20 minutes.
- Cooking times and water needed for rice may vary. Check package for instructions or test with a small quantity first.
- If unsure about cooking times, try cooking white rice, brown rice and quinoa separately.
- Quick cooking or parboiled brown basmati rice cooks much faster. Rinse the rice several times until the water is clear and not starchy.
- Fluffy Rice: The amount of water added while cooking the rice is very important to the final texture of this dish. Keep in mind the additional moisture from shrimp, herbs and onions. So, in the first step, cook the rice to be fluffy, hold its shape well and is not too wet or delicate.
- It is safer to buy frozen shrimp than thawed in store. Be sure to weigh the shrimp after peeling.
- If buying raw shrimp with heads-on, then about 35% of weight is lost after removing the heads. Removing the shell, lowers the weight further by 15%.
- You may use cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes. For milder rice use paprika.
- Frozen or dried fenugreek leaves are available at Indian grocery stores.
- Check for any added salt in spice mixes and other ingredients and adjust.
- The sodium value for shrimp used was from the USDA national nutrient database which is based on retail market shrimp that typically come in contact with sodium solutions during processing. The sodium value may vary if using fresh untreated raw shrimp.
More Rice Recipes
This post was first published on May 2016 and has been updated with video, process photos, improvements in formatting and additional enhancements.