Persian-styled Rice With Russet Burbank Recipe

Recently, our domestic helper taught me how to make kimchi from scratch. Now I have two big tubs of kimchi fermenting in my fridge and it kinda “stink”! I need to cling wrap them. Anyway, I’m afraid the kimchi’s getting more sour than I’d liked, so I had in mind to make kimchi-jjigae but Vanessa just got back from SFW 2017 (Seoul’s Fashion Week) and she’s had enough of Korean cuisine. I needed to cook something different when she returns from her ceramics class because I’m a mom that tries very hard to please my young. One day, I hope to be documented in my progeniture’s “Memoir Of A Good (Grand) Mother”!

What shall I cook that my children have not eaten before? Valerie and her brood may be coming also. Culinary daydreaming… and suddenly Sara came to mind! She’s my Iranian friend and I have seen her cook many a times when I visited her in Tehran. We had communication problem and it was hilarious whenever we expressed ourselves using body language.

My Iranian friends and I in Tehran, having lunch break, before setting off to Caspian Sea.
Sara (second from left) is a very good cook and I have learnt a dish or two from her.
I especially loved her Shevid Polow (recipe provided below).

I have also learnt to prepare and cook kababs which was one of my favourite Persian foods before I got sensitive to lamb. I had the opportunity to learn from a friend’s personal chef when we were at his villa, an awesome place with a river running through his estate.

Kabab barg (on right in meat platter) koobideh or kūbide (nearer the tomatoes) and Persian-styled rice in background.

Immediately, I know what I should attempt since I have Basmati, Saffron and Russet Burbank!

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Basmati Rice (600g or 4 cups), Russet Burbank Potatoes (1 – 2) and Saffron (a pinch).

Russet Burbank is a potato cultivar with dark brown skin and few eyes that is the most widely grown potato in North America. A russet type, its flesh is white, dry, and mealy, and it is good for baking, mashing, and french fries. It is a common and popular potato. – Wikipedia

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Slice the potatoes into 6mm thickness, rinse off starch and pat dry with paper kitchen towel. Rinse basmati repeatedly until water runs clear. Soak in a huge bowl of water for an hour or two.
The purpose of thorough rinsing is to remove starchy content that will make both potato and rice soggy. Rinsing rice grains until water runs clear and soaking them makes the cooked rice more fluffy and elongated.

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Bring a huge pot of water to the boil with 3 tablespoons of coarse salt (you can use table, fine or kosher).
Add in basmati and cook for 7 minutes only stirring once or twice throughout cooking.
Rice is done when they become opaque and elongated. This is the parboil stage.

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In the meantime while rice is cooking, heat a pot with 2 tablespoons of ghee or any vegetable (olive) oil.
Place the pat-dried potato slices and brown them for about a minute or two.
Flip the potato slices over and pile on the cooked and drained rice (see photo below).
Skip this step if not using potatoes or breads.
Other variations include using flat lavash bread, thin pita or flour tortilla instead of potatoes.

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Heat the oil over medium high until it just starts to sizzle. Remove the pot from heat and arrange potatoes (or bread) to cover the bottom of the pot in a single layer, some overlaying is okay.
Transfer the rice carefully with a slotted spoon to the pot and cover the potato slices.

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Add a few scattered dollops  (about 1 tablespoon each) of ghee or butter to the (4 cups) rice.
Variation: You may sprinkle a tablespoon of Rose Water (if using rose essence, add only ½ – 1 teaspoon) onto the rice.
Gradually decrease the area as you continue adding more rice, so that when all the rice is transferred to the pot, it resembles a dome.
Wrap a huge cloth kitchen towel on the pot lid/cover and put on stove over very low heat for 45 minutes or until you see steam coming out of the pot.
Open lid to check that the rice grains are tender by breaking one grain at its centre with your fingers and of course, eating the rice if you’re still not sure.

Persian-styled Rice With Russet Burbank Recipe
6 quarts Water or more (it’s like cooking pasta).
3 tablespoons Salt (I used sea salt, you can any type of salt).
4 cups (600g) Basmati Rice, rinsed until water runs clear and soak at least 60 minutes.
A few dollops of Ghee or Butter.
A pinch (¼ teaspoon) of Saffron Threads, crushed or pounded. Only mix with 3 tablespoons of hot water or milk just before using. Skip this if you don’t have this spice and use turmeric powder (⅛ teaspoon) or a drop of egg yellow food colouring.
1 cup fresh/frozen Dill, roughly chopped (variation).

1 – 2 Russet Burbank, cut into 6mm (¼ inch) slices and rinse well to remove starch. Although not necessary, I soaked for 5 minutes.
2 tablespoons Ghee or any Vegetable/Olive Oil.
Salt, to taste, sprinkle over potatoes when cooking.

Variation (Persian Dill Rice – Shevid Polow)
After 7 – 8 minutes of boiling as in “Method Step 3“, drain the rice into a colander. Some recipes ask to rinse rice with potable tap water, then drain again but Sara skips this step. Gently and thoroughly mix in 1 cup chopped fresh or thawed frozen Persian Dill into the rice. Place the dill rice into a clean pot and put it back on the stove, and continue from “Method Step 5″ sans the potato slices.

1. Fill a huge pot with water and bring it to a fast boil. You will need to allow room for the rice that you will be adding later.

2. When water is boiling, add 3 heaped tablespoons salt. Stir to dissolve salt and then gently transfer the rinsed rice into the pot. Bring the pot of water to rolling boil. During cooking, stir the rice a couple of times very gently with a large slotted spoon to make sure the grains are not clumped together.

Parboil stage:
3. Cook rice for 7 – 10 minutes depending on how many cups of rice you’re cooking and if you have soaked them. I cooked 4 cups soaked rice in 7 – 8 minutes.  This recipe is good for 2 – 6 cups of rice. My 1 cup is roughly 145g – 150g. Drain rice into a colander (add Persian Dill at this stage if using). Set aside.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee (or vegetable/olive oil) in a pot over medium-high heat until it sizzles. Cover bottom of pot with a layer of potato slices. Sprinkle some salt onto the potatoes and let fry for a minute. Remove the pot from heat and flip the potatoes over. Arrange potatoes to cover the bottom of the pot in a single layer again, some overlaying is okay if you have more than enough potatoes (see photo above).

5. With a slotted spoon, delicately transfer the rice into the pot to cover the potato slices.

6. Place a few dollops of ghee or butter on rice. Gingerly fluff up some rice from the side of pot to form a small mound of dome/volcano shape and flatten the top.

7. Make a steam hole by pushing the handle of a wooden spoon all the way through in the centre of the flat-top of the mound. Alternatively, you can gently create some steam holes around an even layered rice.

8. Place pot back on stove and reduce heat to very low. If you have a *heat diffuser equipment (see image link at end of post), use it on your stove and put the pot on medium low heat. Some folks use a tawa (tava – flat disc shape fry pan like those for frying paratha).

9. Wrap a huge cloth kitchen towel on the pot lid/cover to prevent steam water collected on lid to drip back onto the rice. Place pot back on stove over very low heat and steam for 45 minutes or until you see steam coming out of the pot. Open lid to check that the rice grains are tender by breaking one grain at its centre with your fingers and of course, eating the rice if you’re still not sure.

10. Pound saffron threads with a mortar and pestle. Mix crushed saffron with 2 tablespoons hot water or milk in a bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of rice to saffron mixture and toss until rice is yellow.

11. Scoop the remaining rice into a serving platter and topped with saffron rice. Line the sides of rice with crisp potato slices. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired (I don’t) and serve with side dishes and salads of your choice.

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Persian-styled Rice with Russet Burbank.
We enjoyed it with a Spicy Chicken dish.

Happy cooking, eating and bonding! 🙂

You may totally skip the potatoes/breads and cook only rice. After parboiling and draining away the salted water, place the rice back into the pot and continue to cook until steam emerges from pot, about 45+- minutes.

If you had read my recipe thoughtfully, you would realise you’ve had 4-in-1 under your belt – fluffy buttery rice, saffron flavoured rice, rice with crisp potatoes (tahdig?) and rice with dill (shevid polow)!

See steps for Basmati prep work here: Biryani Recipe (Spiced Rice Is Nice).

See images of heat diffuser here:

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