Traditionally Reshteh Polo is served the evening before commencement of our celebrations for the Persian New Year. Literal translation is Noodle Rice for this very decadent, carb-satisfying dish. Often it is served with either roasted chicken or Persian style meatballs. For this post, I will share with you both recipes and provide an alternative vegetarian option. Kids particularly love Reshteh Polo because they playfully pick the noodles and raisins out of the rice with their fingers to enjoy the very subtle yet profound flavors of this dish. Cinnamon, turmeric, and saffron combined with golden raisins create an aromatic sweet dance that will transport you to the East. As an adult, I am grateful tradition binds me for consuming this double hit of carbohydrate luring me into guilty pleasure.
Other traditional recipes served for Persian New Years include sabzi polo mahee and kookoo sabzi. Check out many of our recipes posted in the years past.
Two protein options are given below for serving Reshteh Polo- one with roasted chicken (which can be served on the side) or the other is turkey meatballs (which is cooked and incorporated into the dish). The simpler recipe is to serve roasted chicken; remember to marinate chicken the night before. However, a nice vegetarian option can be to omit the protein and incorporate raisins and dates- equally decadent, sweet and delicious!
2 cups Basmati rice
4 oz. of Roasted Noodles broken into 1" pieces
8 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
3/4 cup small golden raisins-rinsed and soaked in water for 20 minutes and then strained
**optional 1/2 cup of chopped dates, for a vegetarian recipe
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
In a large non-stick pot, bring to boil rice, salt and water. Immediately, turn the heat down low and add noodles; stir occasionally for the rice and noodles to not clump together and simmer until rice and noodles are ‘al-dente’. In the sink, using a rice appropriate strainer (small holes to not allow the rice to rinse out), strain the rice and noodle from the hot water and shower it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
8 chicken thighs or drum sticks with bone and skin
1 large onion finely chopped
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt and ground pepper each
The night before, marinade chicken in all of the above ingredients.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken pieces on pan excluding onion pieces and marinade. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes; later reduce temperature to 350 for an additional 40 minutes. Serve hot along with the rice.
Persian Style Mini-Meatballs
1/2 lb. ground turkey
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 small onion shredded- separating pulp from it's juice (save the pulp and discard juice)
3/4 teaspoon salt and ground pepper each
1/4 cup organic butter ( substituting with olive oil if you prefer)
In a stainless steel bowl, combine well all the above ingredients (except for butter/oil). Roll into small balls about 1/2 teaspoon of turkey mix and one-by-one arrange on a large platter prior to searing. In a large flat non-stick pan, melt butter over medium heat. One by one, toss in meatball pieces until a golden sear becomes present, gently tossing and turning meatballs making certain not to crush them but are slightly cooked (the meatballs will be further cooked along with the rice). Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large non-stick pot with a matching lid, pour in ¼ cup of vegetable oil and ½ cup of water. Place ¼ of al-dente rice and noodles on the bottom of the pot (spread rice to cover evenly the bottom of the pot without crushing rice). Lightly dash over the rice 1/4 of spice mix, 1/4 of raisins (and dates if using), and 1/4 of the cooked meatballs (omit if vegetarian option is used). Repeat again with the rice followed by the spice mix, raisins, and meatballs until all the rice, spice mix, raisins and meatballs have been incorporated. With a wooden spoon, puncture 3-4 holes from the top of the rice to the bottom of the pot to create vents to cook rice throughout evenly. Place a large kitchen towel over the pot and cover with lid. Make certain sides of the towel are brought to the top of the lid securely to prevent it from catching fire. Turn heat on to medium high until you hear rice, water and oil crackling (usually 5 minutes); then turn heat down to low and cook rice for 40 minutes.
Gently, spoon rice and meatballs into a large serving platter- reserving 1/2 cup of the rice. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup warm melted butter, saffron and 1/2 cup of reserved cooked rice; blend gently. Using this saffron rice, garnish the top of Reshte polo. Tah-deeg is the crunchy rice left at the bottom of the pot which is a dentist's nightmare but a exuberant sensation of crispy texture and delightful taste- serve separately.
If your have prepared roasted chicken, in a separate serving platter, serve roasted chicken on the side.