Lily’s Persian-Style Herbed Rice
The first time I had this flavorful dish I was in California while helping to prepare a family dinner with an old friend at her old friend’s home. Not only is Lily a gracious hostess, inviting a bunch of strangers into her home for dinner, but she is also a fabulous cook! I am pleased to now be able to call her my friend. Lily’s Persian rice is filled with aromatic and colorful herbs and vegetables that make this a rice dish you won’t forget.
- 2 cups basmati rice (brown or white)
- 2-3 tablespoons salt
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
- 2 bulbs fresh garlic or 3 cloves regular garlic, minced
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1½ cups frozen fava beans (may substitute lima beans or edamame), defrosted
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2-3 tablespoons butter (or oil)
- Enough canola oil to fill the pot ¼-inch deep
- 2 or 3 small potatoes (Yukon gold or red), sliced into thin rounds to cover the bottom of the pot
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse uncooked rice in cold water several times until water runs clear. Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with water and the salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add rice and boil rapidly for 10 minutes until rice is partially cooked. Do not cook until done or soft. Bring pot to the sink and pour the cold water over the rice to make the starchy water overflow. Drain rice in a colander and then transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Chop herbs, garlic and onions together in a food processor. With a large spoon, mix together the drained rice and all the herbs and beans, and toss loosely into a mound in a large bowl.
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind together saffron, sugar and ½ teaspoon turmeric. In a small bowl, melt butter and mix in the ground spices (or combine with oil, if using instead).
- Put the heavy-bottomed pot back onto the stove. Fill with oil, and add remaining turmeric and heat over medium heat while stirring. Slice small potatoes into thin rounds and cover the oil on bottom of the pot with one layer of potatoes. Transfer the rice mixture to the pot, covering the potatoes. Poke 3 or 4 holes with the long handle of a wooden spoon into the mound of rice, and pour the butter and saffron mixture down the holes.
- Place about 3 layers of paper towels or a clean cotton kitchen towel over the top of the pot and then place the lid tightly over the pot. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes. Lower the heat to the lowest temperature, and steam rice for 35 to 45 more minutes. Be sure to keep the temperature low so you don't burn the potatoes.
- To serve, scoop the rice out from the top of the pan being careful not to break the crust on the bottom. Place in a serving dish. Once all the rice is out except for the potato crust (tadig), carefully remove the potato crust from the bottom of the pot and flip the crust over placing it over the rice in the serving dish. It should be golden-brown and beautiful!