Saturday, April 25, 2009

Persian Rice Dishes...

Persian rice dish...Zereshk polow

In Iran, grains of rice are said to symbolize money and at the end of the meal any rice that has slipped to the floor will be collected, in recognition of the fact that money should not be wasted.

Rice dishes are among the true specialties, and perhaps the most traditional dishes in all of Persia. It is the most important food commodity in Persian cuisine. There are two primary preparations for rice in Iran: chelow and polow. Preparing both the chelow (white rice) and polow (a pilaf-style dish) is a complicated and long process. Another variety of polow called kateh, made in the shape of a cake, is more popular in northern part of Iran (Rasht).

The rice is first soaked, then boiled and finally steamed. To make chelow khoresh, a household favorite in Iran, the rice is then cooked until a golden crust (karak nasi) forms at the bottom of the dish. Chelow is a common accompaniment to meat or poultry stews.

A polow is generally flavored with vegetables, herbs and nuts. For example, shireen polow, considered “The King of Persian Dishes,” is flavored with saffron, orange peel, dried fruit, carrot, pistachios and almonds and then coated in caramelized sugar and served with saffron rice.

There are several varieties of the rice dishes of Iran that we have come across over the last years that we’ve been around here. Some of these rice dishes are more commonly served during the endless dinner receptions, while some of them we tried and tested at numerous local and traditional restaurants and eateries in Tehran and other cities and provinces. Some of these traditional dishes are:

Shireen-polow, Zereshk-polow, Chelow khoresh, Tah-cheen, Bagali Shevid Polow (Lima bean with Dill rice), Morasah-polow, Kalam-polow, Adas-polow, Albaloo-polow (cherry & rice), Loobia-polow (beans & rice), Haveej-polow (carrot & rice), Sabzi-polow, Eslamboli-polow, Maash-polow, and Meigo-polow (shrimp & rice).
However in my post today I would like to share with you a recipe of one of my favorite rice dishes of Iran - Zereshk-polow. Usually prepared for our family lunch or dinner, and occasionally for a gathering of a few friends and special guests. Take a little while to prepare though, with a little bit of adjustment and addition. The outcome – a classic Persian cuisine adapted to the Bruneian kitchen! Glad that it’s now one of the ideal and preferred family choice…besides the usual nasi goreng and nasi lemak!!

Today’s Recipe:
Ingredients: (4 servings)
Basmati or long grain rice, 500 grams
Chicken, 800 grams
Cooking oil
Barberries (dried), four spoons
Sugar, one spoon
Two large onions
Saffron, ½ teaspoon
Black pepper

Remove the skin from the chicken pieces. Marinate chicken in grated onions, salt and pepper for 4-5 hours.*
Cook rice using the recipe given for polow or kateh.**
Wash barberries twice with cold water and drain the water. Add sugar and fry in butter over medium heat for about five minutes.
Pour saffron in a small bowl. Pour in 2-3 spoons of hot water and mix. Fill the bowl with rice and mix well. Add saffron-rice and barberries to the rest of the rice and mix well.
Cook chicken under grill for 15-20 minutes turning each piece a few times during cooking. Serve with barberry-rice.
(* Chicken can also be prepared according to our own style of cooking and taste such as curry, sweet and sour, etc).
(** Soak rice with salt for about two hours, drain the rice and boil in hot water until half cooked and drain again. After that steam the rice until it is cooked).
Selamat mencoba and wish you every success…

sprinkle barberries over the rice

chicken curry

serving for four

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