You can cook rice in a number of ways. The two most favored methods are boiling and then par boiling and steaming which is what we usually do when we are cooking rice the Persian way. It’s a little more labour intensive but I think the results are much better: the grains are separate and elongate during the cooking process to produce an end result you will be proud to serve to your family and guests.
However you have to use the right rice….. please don’t expect a good result from just any old ‘uncles’ rice. It has to be basmati rice and even then there are different grades of basmati rice so choose a high-grade and you won’t go wrong. In the UK ‘Tilda’ rice is available from all supermarkets and this would be my rice of choice.
Next it’s really essential to rinse and pre soak the rice. Place 1cup of rice per person (and I always do one extra) in a bowl of water and swish it round gently and you might be surprised at just how murky the water becomes. This is rice dust and it will make your rice sticky and unpleasant so, AND even worse it’s starchy and therefore calorie laden… so keep rinsing the rice until the water becomes clear. Then soak it in salted water for at least two hours before you begin the cooking process. The salt helps the rice to preserve its shape and adds flavour. After two hours, you might be amazed at how much the rice has swollen.
Note the difference in size and colour
~~PERFECT PERSIAN RICE~~
Please note: before you begin please read my notes on ‘ What you need to know about rice’
~Equipment you will need~
- A large heavy bottomed non stick pan with a lid.
- A large mesh sieve
- A tea towel to wrap around the lid. Please be sure you secure it safely to avoid any risk of it catching fire.
- Prepare an infusion of saffron ( za’faran) as described in ‘Saffron and what to do with it’
- If you want a good ‘ Tadig’ ( the crispy rice crust) prepare the potatoes or naan now. Cut potatoes into thin slices. You can substitute potatoes with naan ( flat bread) or white cabbage leaves and I have even done it with iceberg lettuce leaves.
Use 1 cup of rice per person
- Thoroughly wash the rice until the water runs clear
- Soak the rice in cold, salted water for at least 2 hours before beginning to cook
- Boil up a large pan ofwater and when boiling add a teaspoon of salt, a drop of saffron and a 1/3rd teaspoon of butter
- Drain the rice and add it carefully to the boiling water. The water temperature will drop so allow it to comes to the boil again. Stay with it now and stir occasionally but be careful not to damage the grains.
- You will start to see the rice begin to expand in length. Continue to boil until the grains become ‘al dente’. Be careful they don’t become fluffy.
- When ‘al dente’ , drain in a mesh sieve.
- Rinse to remove any unwanted starch and put to one side and allow it continue to drain.
- For ‘Taadig’, melt a desert spoon of butter or ghee in the pan you intend to cook the rice in.
- Add a tablespoon of oil, and 1/3rd of a cup of boiling water. Stir.
- Pour most of this into a cup for later use and add another tablespoon of oil into the pan.
- Place your potatoes, naan or cabbage in the bottom of the pan and then gently place the rice on top
- Add 1/2 of the liquid butter, oil and water mix and wait until you see some steam.
- Cover with the lid and steam on a low heat for an hour to an hour and a half adding more of the liquid mix as needed. You want to prevent the rice from becoming too dry and to allow the taadig to form a crispy crust. Dont however add any more of this in the last 20 minutes of the cooking process.
- Remove a few spoons of rice into a bowl and add the infusion of za’faran. mix gently.
- Gently spoon the rest of the rice on to your serving dish and add the za’faran rice and gently mix in.
- Finally if you used potatoes for the taadig you can place these on your dish too. If you have any other taadig then use a separate dish to serve it in.
~NOOSHI JOONET. ENJOY ~