I have been asked how to make the Persian rice dish we had at our inaugural oneg Shabbat so here goes. It is not all that tricky really but does require time as you have to start by soaking the rice for at least 3 hours! My son tells me that this isn’t a totally authentic recipe (I cut it out of a magazine years ago) but is an approximation of the rice served for weddings.
This makes enough for 6 people. Persian ‘wedding’ rice
- 300g basmati rice
- 2 oranges
- 2 carrots
- 5tsps olive oil
- 40g unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2tsps sugar
- 1/tsp saffron
- 25g pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
- 25g chopped blanched almonds
- 25g raisins, soaked in warm water at least 15 mins
- 25g barberries or sour cherries or cranberries
- For the tah dig (crunchy topping)
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- 40g unsalted butter
- Wash rice, cover with cold water and leave to soak 3 hrs at least
- Use potato peeler to take off orange rind very thinly and then slice into very thin strips. put rind in pan, cover with water and boil 2 or 3mins then drain.
- Use mortar to grind saffron a bit then add it to 60ml hot water and grind it up more, leave to dissolve as much as possible
- Peel carrots and cut into very fine strips about 6cm long.
- Heat oil and butter in frying pan and sauté carrots 4 mins until soft (don’t brown them)
- Add cinnamon, sugar, drained orange peel and cook another min
- Add saffron and water mix and stir, then stir in almonds, pistachios drained raisins and barberries (or the substitute). leave on one side until needed.
- Drain and wash well the rice then put it into large pan of already boiling salted water and boil 4 mins on fast. (I add the STRAINED juice of the 2 oranges) Drain it and rinse it yet again in warm water. (this gets rid of all the starch and is essential or rice will be like glue!)
- In large strong pot (I use a cast iron one),gently melt tah dig butter and oil until it sizzles but not browning or burning. Put in 1/3 of rice and pat it down, then half the carrot mix then another 1/3 of the rice then rest of carrot mix and then last 1/3 of the rice. Don’t forget to season with a little salt and pepper each layer of rice (I ALWAYS forget!)
- Now make 3 holes in the rice with handle of wooden spoon, and wrap tight fitting lid in foil or grease proof paper (recipe says tea towel but I have set fire to these several times so don’t advise it at all!) This is to keep the steam in.
- Put on HIGH heat for 4 mins then turn down to LOW for 15 mins . DON’T take the lid off or the steam escapes.
- Get a big plate or tray, pass a palette knife round the sides of the pot, put your plate on top and turn out onto the plate (like an upside down cake). This is quite tricky with a heavy pot and I usually get help! (If you like you could save a bit of the carrot mix to decorate the turned out rice for a special occasion)
Iranians eat rice like this every day but don’t usually have the carrot mix except for special occasions but the crunchy tah dig is essential as is all that soaking and pre-boiling.