• Behzad Jamshidi

Recipe For Persian Jeweled Rice With Tahdig

Updated: May 23

A Few Things Before You're On Your Way

- Quality Is Everything. Be sure to get your hands on a premium quality rice, that has been aged at least for one year. This helps greatly with the flavor development of the rice as well as giving the individual kernels the opportunity to rehydrate to their full potential. The quality of your rice dictates whether you can achieve cooking the longest grains of rice possible.

Photo By Margaret Kuo

- Explore & Be Curious. There are endless possibilities with what you can garnish and season rice with. Explore all the different flavors and variations that this dish can bring. Do not let the reality of missing an ingredient like pistachios discourage you with substituting it with walnuts, cashews or anything else for that matter.

- Take Your Time. Don't rush the steaming process. The Iranian kitchen has been designed to cook things long and slow without every ruining a dish. This rice can sit on the stove top over low heat for upwards of 4 hours in some cases - this type of patience yields results that are holy and unmatched.

- Critical Steps Make The Difference. The process of making the perfect steamed rice with a crust to marvel over comes down to several critical steps that have to be done correctly. In order to yield outstanding results - layer, don't pack your rice into the pot, add a thin dish towel over your rice when it steams, warm soak your rice as opposed to cold.. All this language is specific on purpose in order to give you a consistent formula and the confidence to be the master at your next dinner party.

Photo By Ryan Kober

Ingredients:

For The Rice:


- 450g Basmati Rice

- 30g Kosher Salt

- 1g Saffron, ground fine

- 1/4 Cup Grape Seed Oil or Another Neutral Oil

- 50g Butter, unsalted or Ghee

- 5g Rose Water

- 3/4 Cup Water, boiling


For The Garnishes:


Candied Orange:


- 2 Oranges, zests peeled, & sliced very thin

- 2 Oranges, juiced

- 1/2 Cup Sugar, granulated

- 5g Orange Blossom Water

- 1 Cardamom Pod, crushed

- 5g Kosher Salt


Candied Raisins:


- 100g Golden Raisins

- 1/2 Cup Sugar, granulated

- 1/2 Cup Water

- 1 Stick Ceylon Cinnamon


Jeweled Barberries:


- 100g Barberries

- 1/4 Cup Water

- 10g Grapeseed Oil

- 5g Butter or Ghee

- 15g Sugar, granulated

- 2g Rose Water

- Salt to taste


Toasted Almonds:


- 100g Almonds, slivered or chopped

- 50g Butter or Ghee

- Salt to taste


Other Garnish:


- 100g Pistachios, slivered or chopped

- 5g Dried Rose Petals, destemmed

- 5g Dried Cornflowers, destemmed


Process:


For The Garnish (prepare in advance of your rice):


Candied Orange:


- In a small saucepan, bring orange zest, sugar, orange juice, orange blossom water, cardamom and salt to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, until orange peel is tender and soft, and the liquid resembles a light syrup. Set aside.


Candied Raisin:


- Place raisins in an appropriate heat proof container with ceylon cinnamon and sugar. Pour over 1/2 cup of boiled water and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.


Jeweled Barberries:


- Place barberries in an appropriate heat proof container and mix together with 1/4 cup boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes.

-Meanwhile, place a sauté pan over medium heat with grapeseed oil and butter and heat until the butter becomes foamy. Thoroughly drain and gently squeeze out any additional moisture from the barberries before adding them into the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes until barberries are fragrant and glossy. Add sugar, rosewater and salt to taste and sauté further for 2 minute.

-Transfer barberries onto a paper towel and allow to cool at room temperature.


Toasted Almonds:


- Over medium heat, melt butter and add slivered almonds and salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes until almonds are toasted and brown. Transfer to a seperate heat proof container and allow to cool at room temperature.


For The Rice:

- Place your rice in a large bowl and wash it under slowly running tepid water. Wash the rice thoroughly but gently by clumping it into either hand and brushing the two handfuls of rice together in the running water. Once the bowl fills up completely, carefully drain all the water and repeat this process until the water in the bowl is completely clear.


- Once rice is thoroughly washed, cover it with 6 cups of lukewarm water and add 30g of kosher salt. Mix together and let stand at room temperature for up to 4 hours.


- Meanwhile, fill a large pot of water 3/4's full and bring to a boil. Season the water the way you would pasta water, trying to get the flavor of the boiling water to resemble the salinity in seawater.


- Once your rice has thoroughly warm soaked and developed an ivory white hue, drain off all the soaking liquid. When your pot of water has come to a rolling boil, add your rice into the pot. Allow a few minutes for the rice to return to a rolling boil. Catching it once it is immediately back at a rolling boil is absolutely critical.


- Meanwhile, place a fine mesh colander in the sink. Additionally, place a heavy based, non-stick pot onto the stove top over medium-heat with 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil at the bottom.


- Simmer rose water, butter and 3/4 cups of water together and set aside.


- Once the center of the rice pot has returned to a rolling boil, drain your rice immediately into the container. In this step we are blanching the rice to both removed the additional starch on the outside, in addition we are helping cook the rice part of the way through before steaming.


- To test the rice, gently take a single kernel between your fingers and pinch. When the rice splits open, examine the rice to see half of the kernel, most dense at the center, is still ivory white and hard, while the surrounding outside is soft and translucent. Determine to cook the rice longer in the blanching pot to achieve this result.


- After the rice has thoroughly drained, using a wide serving spoon, gently transfer spoons of rice at a time into the non-stick heavy based pot lined with grapeseed oil. Layer all the blanched rice into the pot until it is all transfered. Gently flatten the surface at the top and be careful not to press down on the rice.


- Using the back of a spoon, create three even holes in the center of the rice going all the way down into the bottom of the pot. Place 1/3 of a cup of your steaming rosewater and butter mixture into each of the "chimney" holes. Place a thin dish towel over the top of the rice pot and cover the rice with a tight fitting lid. The dish towel assure that the rice soaks only the moisture necessary to hydrate fully and prevents the kernels from overcooking.


- Allow the rice to cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until a noticeable amount of steam is seen leaving the surface of the pot. This helps both set the foundations for the crispy crust at the bottom of the pot, as it does develop the optimal temperature and environment to steam the rice thoroughly.


- Reduce the heat to medium-low at this point if you're anticipating to serve the rice within the hour, or turn down the stove to the lowest heat if you plan to keep the rice on the stove for 2 hours or longer.


- Allow the rice to steam uninterrupted for 50 minutes. Afterwards, check the rice to assure it is cooked all the way through. To check for a formed "tahdig" or crispy bottom, turn the heat up on your rice to medium for a minute and if you hear a crackling in the pot and or observe a buttery popcorn aroma escaping from your rice, you've successfully created tahdig at the bottom of your pot. If you do not yield these results, check your rice again in 10-15 minute intervals.


- Once your rice is deemed ready, cut the heat under the pot and prepare your saffron liquid by taking 1g of saffron, and grinding it in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of sugar and steeping it with 30g of hot water. Dissolve the saffron into the water and using a table spoon, spoon the saffron liquid over top of the rice and gently scatter the golden stained rice throughout the body of the other steamed rice kernels.


- Drain off any excess liquid or oil from your candied orange peel, barberries, golden raisins, & toasted almonds, and add it to the top of your rice. Take half the amount of slivered pistachios, rose petals & corn flowers and add those additionally to the jewel mixture.


- Using a spoon and being careful as to not bread the tahdig crust or the drier corners closest to the walls of the rice pot, mix the jewels into the rice evenly.


- Take a flat serving plate and place it overtop of the rice pot. Using oven mitts or towels, grip the serving plate and the pot handles together in each hand. Shimmy the pot gently side to side to release the rice from the bottom of the pot (you should be able to feel the rice release and slide as you agitate the pot). Then in one gallant motion, invert the rice pot upside down and shake the pot in a swift linear motion to get the rice cake to slip out onto your serving plate.


- Carefully place your serving plate on a flat surface before releasing it and removing the pot from the top of the rice.


- Take a second to thank yourself for all your hard work up until this point. Feel proud if it came out perfect. Feel proud even if it didn't. Most importantly, be excited to do it all again soon!


- Using the remaining pistachios, rose petals and cornflowers, garnish the top of your rice.


- Serve immediately.