Persians take great pride cooking plain rice to perfection. Often at gatherings, the host will be complimented and judged simply on how well the rice was prepared. Long grains, loose (not sticky), delicate, fragrant basmati rice is the pride of any good hostess! Combination of saffron and perfectly cooked basmati rice makes is a staple at every Persian dinning experience.
Persian rice is great with almost all Persian stews, especially fesenjoon (traditional recipe) / fesenjan (easy to make, crock pot version), baghalee ghatogh, plum stew and plum stew with spinach (khoreshte aloo and aloo esfenaj).
INGREDIENTS (for about 8-10 servings)
4 cups Basmati Rice
10 cups water
2 tablespoon salt
¼ cup corn oil (I now generally substitute organic butter from grass fed and finished cows)
¼ teaspoon saffron dissolved in 5 tablespoons of hot water
¼ cup melted butter
1. Two hours prior to making rice, in a large bowl, rinse rice with cold water until the water in the rice appears clear and not cloudy with starch. Take caution to not crush rice. Fill the bowl of rice with water and set aside for a couple of hours.
2. Later, rinse out all of the water from rice.
3. In a large non-stick pot with a matching lid, bring 10 cups of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon of salt and rice.
4. Stir occasionally to prevent rice from sticking together; allowing all of the rice to cook evenly.
5. Once the rice becomes “al dente”, IMMEDIATELY remove rice from the stove and pour into a strainer (with small escape holes so that the water will rinse out, and not rice grains) in the sink. Be careful of the hot steam. Use cold tap water to rinse out all the starch and hot water.
6. In the same pot, place ¼ oil and 1/2 cup water in the bottom. Gently pour strained rice into the pot. Place over medium/high heat until you begin to hear water and oil boiling (3-5 minutes). Puncture four long holes with the end of your spatula from the top of the rice to the bottom of the pot to create vents which will allow steam to circulate. Then reduce temperature to medium/low and slowly cook rice ( 30-40 minutes, reduce heat to low if you smell the rice burning). Cover the top part of the pot with a towel or large paper cloth and place the lid firmly on top of the towel. Bring sides of the towel to the top of the lid and secure to prevent it from making contact with heat source which can cause it to burn or catch on fire.
7. Once the rice is cooked, remove a cup of rice and in a small bowl, mix rice with the saffron and butter. Gently toss.
8. Gently spoon the cooked rice from the pot to a large serving platter. Sprinkle on top the saffron rice and serve along with stew.
9. On the bottom of the pot, there will be a thin layer of crunchy rice called "Tah-deeg"- literal translation "bottom of the pot". It is very crunchy and flavorful. Enjoy.