Chelo Recipe - Vegetarian Rice Dish from Persia


Chelo Recipe - Vegetarian Rice Dish from Persia
Region / culture: Persia | Preparation time: 6 hours | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet



Chelo is a traditional Persian rice dish that is simple yet flavorful. It is often served alongside kebabs or stews and is a staple in Iranian cuisine.


Chelo has been a part of Persian cuisine for centuries, with its origins dating back to ancient times. It is believed to have been introduced to Iran by the Mongols during their conquests in the 13th century.


How to prepare

  1. If you are using Iranian rice, start at least 6 hours ahead.
  2. Spread the rice on a clean surface and remove any dark or discolored grains.
  3. Then wash the rice in a fine sieve or colander under warm running water until the draining water runs clear.
  4. Finally, place the rice in a large bowl or pot, add 0.25 cup of salt and enough cold water to cover it by about 1 inch, and soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  5. If you are using other long-grain rice, wash it in the same way, but soak it in the salt water for about 2 hours.
  6. In a heavy 3 to 4 qt (3.78 liter) saucepan with a tightly fitting lid, bring 6 cups of fresh water to a boil over high heat.
  7. Thoroughly drain the rice and add it to the boiling water.
  8. Add the rice in a slow, thin stream to ensure the water continues boiling.
  9. Stir once or twice, then boil briskly, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  10. Drain the rice using a sieve.
  11. Pour 1 cup of fresh water and the melted butter into the saucepan, then add the parboiled rice, mounding it slightly in the middle of the pan.
  12. Cover the pan tightly with a strip of aluminum foil and place the lid on top.
  13. Simmer the rice over moderate heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the grains are tender and have absorbed all the liquid in the pan.
  14. Serve immediately.


  • Add saffron water to the rice for a fragrant and colorful twist.
  • Mix in cooked lentils or chickpeas for added protein and fiber.
  • Top the rice with fried onions or toasted nuts for extra crunch and flavor.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

Soaking the rice in salt water helps to season the grains and improve their texture.

- Using a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid is essential for cooking the rice evenly.

- Adding a strip of aluminum foil under the lid helps to create a steamy environment, resulting in fluffy and tender rice.

Serving Suggestions

Chelo is traditionally served with kebabs, grilled vegetables, and a side of yogurt or salad.

Cooking Techniques

Parboiling the rice before steaming helps to achieve perfectly cooked grains.

- Fluffing the rice with a fork after cooking helps to separate the grains and prevent clumping.

Ingredient Substitutions

Basmati rice can be used as a substitute for Iranian rice.

- Ghee or olive oil can be used instead of butter for a dairy-free option.

Make Ahead Tips

The rice can be soaked and parboiled ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to finish cooking.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the chelo in a mound on a platter and garnish with a sprinkle of sumak for a pop of color. - Arrange grilled kebabs and vegetables around the rice for an elegant presentation.

Pairing Recommendations

Chelo pairs well with grilled meats, such as lamb or chicken, as well as with yogurt-based dips and salads.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover chelo can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, sprinkle with a little water and steam in a covered saucepan over low heat until warmed through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of chelo contains approximately 250 calories.


Each serving of chelo contains approximately 45 grams of carbohydrates.


Each serving of chelo contains approximately 8 grams of fats.


Each serving of chelo contains approximately 4 grams of proteins.

Vitamins and minerals

Chelo is a good source of manganese, selenium, and magnesium.


Chelo is gluten-free and nut-free, but it contains eggs.


Chelo is a nutritious and balanced dish that provides a good amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.


Chelo is a classic Persian rice dish that is simple to make yet delicious and versatile. With a few key ingredients and cooking techniques, you can create a flavorful and satisfying side dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses.

How did I get this recipe?

The memory of discovering this recipe for the first time is a treasured one. It was many years ago, during a trip to Iran with my husband. We were invited to dinner at the home of a dear friend, and she served us a dish that I had never tasted before - Chelo.

As soon as I took my first bite, I knew that I had to learn how to make this delicious dish. The combination of fragrant basmati rice, tender pieces of lamb, and perfectly cooked vegetables was unlike anything I had ever tasted. I begged my friend for the recipe, and she graciously agreed to teach me how to make it.

We spent the entire afternoon in her kitchen, chopping vegetables, marinating the meat, and cooking the rice just so. My friend explained each step to me in detail, and I listened carefully, eager to learn all of her secrets. As the aroma of the spices filled the air, I knew that this was a recipe that I would cherish forever.

When the dish was finally ready, we sat down to eat together. The flavors were even better than I remembered, and I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride knowing that I had made this delicious meal myself. From that day on, Chelo became a staple in my cooking repertoire, and I have made it countless times for friends and family.

Over the years, I have added my own twist to the recipe, experimenting with different spices and ingredients to create a version that is uniquely my own. I have shared the recipe with anyone who has asked for it, passing on the tradition of this special dish to the next generation.

Every time I make Chelo, I am transported back to that day in Iran, surrounded by friends and flavors that I will never forget. It is a dish that has brought me joy and satisfaction over the years, and I am grateful to my friend for introducing me to it.

As I sit down to enjoy a bowl of Chelo with my family tonight, I can't help but feel grateful for the memories that this recipe has brought me. It is a reminder of the power of food to bring people together, to create lasting bonds and treasured moments. And for that, I will always be thankful.


| Egg Yolk Recipes | Long-grain Rice Recipes | Persian Recipes | Persian Vegetarian |

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