Serves 6 to 8
The ideal Persian rice is fluffy with a crisp bottom crust and a fantastic aroma. Wrapping the pan lid with a tea towel helps achieve the right texture. Nesta Ramazani, author of Persian Cooking (Ibex, 19970), uses either fresh or a combination of fresh and dried herbs in this traditional dish, which is often served with pan-fried or baked white fish, roast chicken, lamb, turkey, or duck. The large amount of salt (I use kosher salt) is necessary because the rice absorbs very little when cooked this way and otherwise tastes flat.
• 6 quarts water
• 4 cups basmati rice
• 8 tablespoons salt
• 1 cup chopped fresh dill, or 4 to 5 tablespoons dried
• 1 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1/2 cup dried
• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• Several fresh fenugreek sprigs, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaf
• 2 bunches scallions, green parts very finely chopped, white parts reserved for another use
• 4 tablespoons butter
1. In a large pot, bring the water to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice, salt, and any dried herbs. Boil the rice, uncovered, for 10 minutes, drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
2. Mix the fresh herbs with the scallions.
3. Melt the butter in a large nonstick or well-seasoned pan. Pour in a quarter of the rice. Sprinkle it with one-third of the herb mixture. Alternate layers, ending with a layer of rice. Cover the pan tightly with a lid wrapped in a tea towel and steam for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.
Longtime Herb Companion contributor Carolyn Dille gardens, cooks, and is the author of several cookbooks. She writes in San Jose, California.
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Cooking Persian Food: 6 Herbal Recipes