Apart from preparing gluten-free granola bars from Green Kitchen Stories, trying to figure out how to handle the heat in Austria which is becoming unbearable and thinking about what I will need/can leave behind with a clear conscience for our road trip through Denmark and Sweden in two days time (!!), I’ve been having rice on my mind for more than a month. Not only rice, but Persian rice. Now what is so special about Persian rice, you may ask? Persians will cringe at this question. Persian rice is probably the way of preparing rice. Let me explain.
Rice is considered as side dish in many cultures, in Persia there is no such thing as rice as a side dish. Rice stars almost every Persian dish.
The first thing that makes Persian rice special is that it’s Persian.
Just kidding. Before cooking the rice, the rice is rinsed to remove the starch and prevent it from sticking together after cooking (like sushi rice or risotto).
Another difference is that it is cooked like pasta for a few minutes, and then steamed.
The best part is undoubtedly the “tahdig” (pronounced ‘tah-deeg’, literally meaning ‘bottom of the pan’), the crunchy crust that causes fights at the table and is always the first thing gone at buffets.
Because I believe Persian rice to be one of the best things, I decided that pictures weren’t enough.
So here is my video and the detailed recipe below.
- 600 g / 3 1/2 cups Basmati rice (*Reyhani) This is a very generous calculation. Persians eat far more rice than Europeans, so you might want to adjust the amount of rice here
- 2 litres of water
- 5 tablespoons salt
- a few strands of saffron, optional
- 1-2 potatoes, optional
- olive oil
Put the rice in a bowl and wash it, about 6 to 8 times or until the water is clear. Cover the rice with water, add two tablespoons of salt and let the rice soak in cold water for one hour. (Make sure to add enough water, rice soaks up a lot of it!)
If you like potato tahdig, slice your potatoes and set aside. You can also use persian flat bread (lavash) or just leave it plain (to make rice tahdig).
After one hour, boil the water in a water kettle. Pour water in a big pot and add three tablespoons of salt (the water should taste saltier than the rice will be). Strain the rice and cook for 7 minutes on middle-high heat. The rice should be “al dente” – not completely cooked, far less falling apart, but not hard either.
Drain the rice and gently rinse with cold water to prevent further cooking.
In the same pot, heat some olive oil (bottom of the pot should be covered with oil) and cover with the potato slices/bread. Add the rice and with the back of a cooking spoon, make 5 holes.
Wrap the lid of the pot with a dish towel and cover the rice. Reduce to middle-low heat and cook the rice for 40 to 50 minutes. (the times depends a lot on the pot and your stove).
When the rice is cooked, you have two options:
1) Flip the rice on a tray and serve.
2) Put some rice in an extra bowl. In a mortar, grind the saffron and add a splash of hot water. Mix in the rice and set aside. Put the remaining rice on a tray and decorate with the saffron rice.