Persian-Style Basmati Rice and Tadik

 

This passed June, I married my best friend, Peyman.  In the early part of our relationship, about 7 years ago, a lot of friends warned me that his parents, being Persian (Iranian, being politically correct), would most likely not approve of me dating their son.  My Persian friends and coworkers told me, “Persians only marry Persians”.  My mom’s hair colorest even told her the same.
I almost didn’t believe them because not only do I find myself very good with older folks, when I sold real estate in Brentwood and Beverly Hills, an area densely populated with Persian-Americans, a lot of Persian parents would try to set me up with their sons.  I am not kidding.
Still, to be honest, on the day I was to meet Peyman’s folks, I woke up a little frightened.  To my delight and surprise, though, my friends were flat out wrong. It was a good day!  The first time I met my in-law’s (about 2 years into the relationship), they welcomed me with open arms.  What a blessing!  To this day, my mother-in-law gives the best hugs, calls me Eva, and always tells me, “I love you”.
Whenever Peyman and I are in town for the weekend, we spend one entire day at his parents’ house.  My father-in-law has a wonderful farm-like garden with trees and other plants overflowing the property.  I enjoy walking around the “farm”, checking out the chickens in the coop, talking to my father-in-law about the plants, and picking and tasting what’s in season.  It’s a beautiful experience.  I get to pick my own eggs, avocados, figs, pomegranates, citrus, beets, plums, persimmon, berries… whenever they’re in season.
While in the yard, my mother-in-law is usually in the kitchen, warming up food that she prepared for us in advance.  Her food is divine.  I love her food more than any Persian restaurant I’ve ever been to.  I’ve asked for her recipes, she told me the ingredients and the directions, but unfortunately, nothing comes out the same.  For that reason, I told her I want to visit her next week, to watch and record her cooking.  It amazes me that I’ve only been able to watch and help her cook rice.  But it’s a darn good rice.  It’s Persian-style basmati rice.  This is one recipe that I will share with you today.
Basmati Rice – Persian-style
Yield: 4 cups of rice
Ingredients
2 Cups Basmati Rice, uncooked
Directions
1. Just as you would cook pasta, fill a medium-sized sauce pot with water and salt it. Bring to a rolling boil, then throw in the rice, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
2. Drain the rice (I drain using a sieve or colander with very small holes – like the one from Ikea)
3. Taste it. If too salty, add a little water to rinse off salt. If not too salty, don’t rinse.
4. Put rice back into pot. Place pot on burner, on medium heat.  Add about a tablespoon or less of canola/grape seed oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pot.
5. Wrap the lid of the pot with a dishcloth, and cover the pot with the lid.
6. Keep the flame on medium heat for about 4 minutes, then bring down heat to low so the rice steams until fluffy.  Fluff with a fork if you wish.  This takes about 10-15 minutes for 2 or 3 cups of rice.  The end result is a crispy rice at the bottom of the pot or, in Farsi, “tadik” and perfectly steamed rice. My mother in-law flips the rice over in a serving plate and will sometimes add saffron water for color and a bit of flavor.
*Saffron water- in a coffee grinder, grind saffron. Add about a pinch-to-1/8tsp to warm water (less than 1/4c). Stir then pour over rice.
**Variation – of you want crispy potato on the bottom of the pan, cut 1/6″ sliced pieces of potato, add enough oil to coat bottom of the pan, then add one layer of sliced potato to the bottom of the pan, add rice back to the pot, on top of the potato. Wrap the lid of the pot with a dishcloth, and cover the pot with the lid. Keep the flame on medium heat for about 4 minutes, then bring down heat to low so the rice cooks and is steamed and fluffy.  Fluff with a fork.  This takes about 10-15 minutes for 2 or 3 cups of rice.  The end result, if you use a nonstick pot, is a crispy potato, in Farsi, “tadik” and Persian-style steamed rice.

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