Sabzi Polow: Persian Herbed Rice
Serves 6 | start to finish: 4 hours (active time: 45 hour)
One of the best parts of Persian rice dishes is the toasty crust called tadigh that develops on the bottom. Sometimes this is achieved using a sheet of lavash bread or sliced potatoes, this version relies on rice. Keep an eye (and ear) on the pot to make sure it doesn’t burn. If you do manage to achieve quality tadigh, serve the pieces on top for all to enjoy.
Traditionally this dish would include green garlic, which is hard to find in the Northwest in March. Adele Merati recommends tucking in a few garlic cloves to add the appropriate flavor.
4 cup basmati rice
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup water
6 to 8 green onions, greens finely chopped, white parts intact
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped, leaves only
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup dill finely chopped, feathery bits only (discard stems)
Additional salt for serving
In a large bowl, soak the rice in water with 2 teaspoons of salt for 2-3 hours before cooking. Change the water once towards the end.
Mix all the chopped herbs in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
Strain the rice and put it in a large pot. Fill with water to cover and bring to a boil. Stir a few times, to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pot, and cook until the rice grains have softened a bit and are chewable but still have a chalky center (about 10 minutes).
Drain the rice and rinse to remove the salty water.
Add the oil and water to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Begin laying in the rice, adding herbs as you go along, mixing together by fluffing the grains. When you have added half the rice, lay the garlic cloves and white parts of the green onions horizontally on top of the rice and continue adding more rice and herbs on top until finished.
Shape into a mounded pyramid and make four or five vent holes in the rice by using the handle of a wooden spoon to push down through the rice until you reach the bottom.
Drizzle 3 tablespoons of water over the mounded rice.
Using a clean kitchen towel, wrap the lid of the pot before putting it in place. This will help absorb excess moisture.
Cook on high heat until the pot begins to steam (5-8 minutes). Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook 15 minutes. Keep an ear out for light crackling sounds and reduce the heat to low for a final 10 minutes. The grains of rice should be tender and you should smell a slight toastiness (though not bitter or burnt) from the tadigh on the bottom.
Serve on a platter, with pieces of the crispy tadigh on top and slices of bitter orange or Meyer lemon.
gluten-free • vegetarian • vegan
Recipe from Celebrating Spring, Edible Seattle, March/April 2014