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Jaymes

Several Iranian Recipes

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Jaymes   

Several years back, I had occasion to host in my home Iranian fighter pilots. They came for dinner several times over a six-month period. Sometimes I prepared the meal for them, and sometimes they prepared the meal for us.

These are some of the recipes they gave me:

Tah Chin (rice & lamb in yogurt sauce)

Ingredients in order of use:

3 to 4 lb shoulder of lamb (trimmed; bite-sized chunks)

2 C plain yogurt (better if you make your own, of course, but if not, store-bought will do)

1/4 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1 t saffron

2 1/2 C rice

1 1/2 t salt

1 egg, beaten

1 t saffron

2 qts water

2 T salt

1/2 C butter

Refrigerate lamb in yogurt, cinnamon, salt, 1t saffron overnite.

Combine rice and salt with enough cold water to cover and allow to soak overnight.

Next day: Remove lamb from yogurt mixture (reserve yogurt), arrange in ovenproof casserole and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

To reserved yogurt mixture, add 1 egg and 1 tsp saffron; beat to combine.

Drain rice that has been soaking.

Bring to boil 2 qts water. Add 2 T salt and drained rice and boil for 10-15 minutes. Pour rice into colander and rinse with lukewarm water.

Remove lamb from baking dish and set aside.

Combine yogurt/egg mixture with rice.

In bottom of baking dish, melt 1/2 C butter with 2 T water. Over melted butter arrange half of rice. Scatter lamb cubes over rice. Top with remaining rice. Cover tightly. Bake at 400 for 14 minutes. Then reduce heat to 325 and bake for an additional 40 minutes. Serves 6.

(Note - this sounds complicated, but is actually quite easy)

Khoreshe Alu (beef in prune sauce)

2 T butter

1 lb tender beef, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1/4 t nutmeg

1/4 t cinnamon

2 C beef broth or bouillon

1 1/2 t lemon juice

20-25 dried prunes, soaked, pits removed

Melt butter in large pot or Dutch oven. Saute meat, onions, seasonings. Add broth and lemon juice. Simmer until meat is tender (about 30 minutes). Add prunes. Simmer for additional 30 minutes. Serve with Iranian-style rice.

Iranian Rice

Wash rice thoroughly to remove as much starch as possible. Cook rice in proportions of about 1 cup rice to about 8-10 cups water. After cooking, rinse again to remove additional starch. Place cooked rice on long flat sheet and bake in slow oven until rice is virtually dried out and very fluffy.

Mast Va Khiar (cucumber salad)

2 med cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 C plain yogurt (homemade or store-bought)

1 tsp salt

1/2 t pepper, or to taste

Combine all. Serve as side dish, or as appetizer with crackers.

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Stone   

This is great. I had Afghan food last night, and plan to revisit the local Iranian restaurant (they insist it's Persian) soon. Do you have more recipes?


Edited by Dstone001 (log)

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Jaymes   
This is great.  I had Afghan food last night, and plan to revisit the local Iranian restaurant (they insist it's Persion) soon.  Do you have more recipes?

These young men were very happy to be invited into an American home. Also (as, it has been my experience, are young men everywhere who are away from their own homes for an extended period of time), they were homesick for their own families' food, and so I told them to write their mamas and request the instructions for their "favorite" meals, and that I would attempt to replicate them.

Which they did and I did.

I have the original stack somewhere, but it may take me a while to find.

The particular recipes I gave above I have made fairly often through the years, and so they were more accessible. I'll look for the others.

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Hopleaf   

an adendum to your Persian rice recipe (which I'm sure works well the way you describe it), but instead of taking the step of putting it in the oven, here's what my grandmother would do (my wife's learned this method and is actually better at it than I am). She would prepare the rice as you've describe, washing the starch out, and your proportions are about accurate. From there, she'd put it in a pot with the water and start cooking. In fact she'd basically slow-boil off the water (which takes a bit of time) to the point where you start to see holes in the rice as if you'd poke the handle of a wooden spoon in it. At that point they put the lid on the rice pot, leaving it slightly ajar and turn the flame way down. They'd simmer until they heard some minor crackling, which is the rice at the bottom of the pan carmelizing, a delicacy that they call Tahdique (haven't a clue how to spell this). Then it's basically done.

Also, in the water they would cook the rice with they'd add some oil and salt and pepper. It's really fantastic. I can almost not eat sticky rice, unless it's with Chinese take out.

Try it, see what happens. I'm gonna try the beef and prune sauce recipe you posted.

Jaymes, can you give us an impression of what it was like to have these guys in your home? What kind of cultural differences did you notice? Stuff like that.

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Stone   

The last time I went to the Persian place, I had a chicken in pomegranite sauce that was one of the most interesting dishes I'd ever had. The sauce was dark brown, almost mole. Not very sweet, but almost chocolately, with the tang of the pomegranite.

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The rice method fascinates me. Could you please describe what it "feels" like when done? Any crispiness?

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Hopleaf   

In the prep that I described, the Tahdique is very crispy (think rice crepe, but you can still see the rice shapes), but it's only one small layer at the bottom. I'm sure brothers and sisters still fight over this in Tehran. My dad would tell us of him and his brothers making bets on things through the course of the day and the typical stake would be one's portion of Tahdique.

Anyway, the rest of the rice (they call this prep pollo, btw) isn't crispy, but has a firmer texture to it than does sticky rice, which makes sense if you think about it, cus they wash all the starch out. Pollo has a cleaner mouthfeel than other rices, almost like the difference between firm italian bread vs. Wonderbread. There's a slightly sweeter flavor to it too, from where I don't know.

I have half a mind to think that this method developed because people new that the sticky rice was too high in carbs for them and since they were trying to make a small amount of meat stretch to many mouths, the had to cut the carbs while contending with still filling bellies. Course that's just a supposition.

My particular favorite dish is one called Adas Pollo. It's plumped raisins, lentils and pollo rice occassionally served with strips of grilled lamb.

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Jaymes   
The rice method fascinates me.  Could you please describe what it "feels" like when done?  Any crispiness?

Well, I have lived various places where they prepare the rice as Hopleaf suggests, and that light-brown crunchy crusty lacey slightly oily thing on the bottom is certainly crisp.

As for the oven method - I watch it closely. And take it out before it gets crisp. But if I take my eyes on it, it most assuredly does get crisp, and then I try to think of things to do with it, like turn it into pudding or something.

But it's no good for serving "along with" whatever dish it was that I was originally preparing it to serve "along with."

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Thanks for sharing the recipes, Jaymes! I look forward to trying the lamb dish soon. Do you happen to have a recipe for authentic Torshi (that Persian pickled vegetable dish)?

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They'd simmer until they heard some minor crackling, which is the rice at the bottom of the pan carmelizing, a delicacy that they call Tahdique (haven't a clue how to spell this). Then it's basically done.

Hopleaf, in India we call this Khurchan. It is prepared the same way. And in old days, and still in some smaller cities and towns, I am told that this khurchan (scraping) was sold at a higher price. In my kitchen, when I make rice, many a friend want to taste some of the khurchan and get extra servings of it.

Our North Indian rice traditions owe much to Persia.

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For Persian rice, first of all you want ultra long grain rice: basmati, or, if you can find it, dom siah, so called because of a thin black stripe or "black tail" down the grain.

There are two basic ways of cooking Persian rice: the first, kateh, is where you rinse the rice, put it in a pot, touch the tip of your straightened index finger to the surface of the rice, and pour in water until it comes up to the 1st bend in the finger above the nail. Bring to a boil, then simmer until holes appear on the surface. Cover with a towel, then a lid or plate, weighted down, and simmer about 10 more minutes, or until done.

The other is chelo: where the rice is soaked, then drained, then boiled like pasta in salty water. Cook it until only the barest bit of opaque white core remains in the grains - 6-7 minutes usually. You want it al dente. Drain, rinse w/hot water, and drain thoroughly.

In a heavy, straight sided, wide bottomed pot (hey, this takes time to get the tah dig to form, may as well go for it), over rather high heat add 2-3T water and butter, ideally enough to cover the bottom of the pan by at least 1/8".

At this point you can go ahead and spoon the rice into the pot, or if you want to get fancy, mix in a little yoghurt, and/or an egg yolk, and some saffron with about 2 c of the rice. You want it to adhere but not to be gloppy. Place this in the pot in one layer, but do not tamp down. Spoon the rest of the rice into the pot, letting it mound of its own accord. Turn the head down to low - on a gas stove this usually means that the flames are just below the burner ring. On an electric stove, heat up a second burner to low, and move the pot over. On electric, make sure that you use a really thick bottomed pot, and keep an eye on it.

Place a folded turkish towel over the top of the pot, cover it, weight the cover down and simmer for 35-40 minutes. When you stick a mouth-moistened index finger to the side of the pot about 3" from the bottom, and it goes sszzzzzzzzt! you're almost there.

Remove the weight, lid, and carefully remove the towel, keeping your head back to avoid steam burns. Remove the pot from the stove, and immerse it about 3" up the sides in a sink (or bowl) full of cold water. Spoon out loose rice, then put a large plate over the mouth of the pan. Do the jello salad release thing: holding the plate firmly against the pot, invert rapidly and give a smart downward jerk. The tah dig ("bottom of the pot") should release and land on the plate in one golden brown, crunchy piece (if not, that's why we have pancake turners). Place on the table for all to admire - as it should be - and then break into pieces to serve with the loose rice scooped out of the pot.

As you develop confidence in the technique, you can add very thinly sliced potatoes or single layers of pita bread on top of the yoghurt/egg/rice mixture before spooning in the plain rice. You can use just yolk, or just yoghurt.

Only one word of warning: this is one of the most highly addictive preparations known to humankind. You will wind up absolutely craving it. And when you learn to toss an egg yolk onto a bowl of hot, hot rice and mix it around with a little butter and a coupla hunks of tah dig, you're talking breakfast of champions.

Theabroma

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there is a similar thing in korean cuisine. at many korean restaurants and homes rice will be brought to the table in incredibly hot stone pots--usually well in advance of other items. once the other foods arrive the rice will be uncovered and scooped out and water added to the stone pot--at the bottom of which will be a small quantity of scorched rice. this gruel is eaten at the end of the meal almost as a dessert. ain't it funny how similar food practices travel?

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Jaymes   
Thanks for sharing the recipes, Jaymes!  I look forward to trying the lamb dish soon.  Do you happen to have a recipe for authentic Torshi (that Persian pickled vegetable dish)?

Wow. Just saw this. Some 2 1/2 years after it was posted.

Actually, have made this but quite a few years ago. And all of my recipes are currently packed up so am very fuzzy as to what exactly I did.

Probably too late for whatever you were planning, IrishCream, but if anyone out there does have a recipe, might be nice to post it. As I recall, it is very good, and a great accompaniment for meats.

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I'd still love a Torshi recipe if anyone has a tried and true one!

Here's one. It is based on the "Torshi Liteh" recipe from "Persian Cuisine," but includes my mother's (considerable) modifications.

This is a very traditional torshi, and a staple in most Iranian homes. The first time you make it, keep some applesauce on hand. If it turns out too sour for your taste, the applesauce will be a good remedy. You can play around with the vegetables and fruit, as well as the herbs. You can even add cayenne to make it spicy. The ingredient list is long, but the preparation is almost trivial.

Torshi Liteh (yields about 5 cups)

---------------------------------------------------------

2 medium eggplants, peeled, halved lengthwise

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium quince, diced (can substitute a granny smith apple)

1 celery heart, diced

1 shallot, minced

1/2 c. fresh parsley, minced (optional)

1/4 c. fresh mint, minced

2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh savory, minced

1 packet Sadaf torshi spice (available at ethnic grocers) or:

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1.5 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 c. vinegar (unfiltered apple cider vinegar is best)

1 Tbsp. nigella seeds (optional)

1. Roast the eggplant in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then chop into small dice.

2. Place eggplant and all remaining ingredients in a pot, and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

3. At this point you can pulse the mixture in a food processor until your desired consistency is reached, mash it with a potato masher, or just let it be. I prefer the texture and appearance of the minced version, without mashing or pureeing.

4. Allow to cool. Keep refrigerated.

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helenjp   

I've made various torshi, and think it's a wonderful no-cook prep method for summer :biggrin: , but I'd never thought of this puree version as a similar dish. Thank you for the recipe, persiancook, I'll definitely make it soon.

Your recipe reminds me of an Iranian friend in New Zealand, who always brought a big bag when she visited so she could raid my huge number of parsley plants!

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Hector   

Oh I love the rice crust you get when boiling Persian rice, it's incredible..

Luvelee..

Anyone knows what the ingridients of Torshi Spice Mixture is?

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Oh I love the rice crust you get when boiling Persian rice, it's incredible..

Luvelee..

Anyone knows what the ingridients of Torshi Spice Mixture is?

You are making me hungry ...

According to the Sadaf page, the ingredients are allspice, mustard seeds, clove, ginger, cinnamon, coriander seeds, black pepper, dill seeds, bay leaves, and cardamom.

I have used this product before and am happy with it. So is my mother, and that is a real endorsement!

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I know this is an older thread, but, I was wondering if someone can give me the name of a type of rice I had at a Persian restaurant. The grains were long, really long, maybe three times longer than 'long grain' -so long they sort of looked a bit like noodles.

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There are two basic ways of cooking Persian rice: the first, kateh, is where you rinse the rice, put it in a pot, touch the tip of your straightened index finger to the surface of the rice, and pour in water until it comes up to the 1st bend in the finger above the nail. Bring to a boil, then simmer until holes appear on the surface. Cover with a towel, then a lid or plate, weighted down, and simmer about 10 more minutes, or until done.

Theabroma,

Thank you very much! Your description of the process of making tadig is the most lucid I have found.

There remain two point on which I am curious.

First, what is the purpose of the towel? Every recipe I have found requires it, but without a credible explanation of its function. Is it to seal the pan and retain as much water as possible? Or does it act as insulation to increase the temperature at the top of the cooking rice? Or does it act to wick condensed steam out of the pan so that it does not drip back and reduce the temperature of the rice that is cooking in the fat at the bottom of the stack? This second mechanism should speed up the formation of the crust and reduce the extent to which the rice on the top dries out. Or is a Turkish towel heavy enough to actually hold all of the condensed steam so that it does not drip back into the pan? Or something else?

Second, what is the temperature at which the rice begins to brown? It seems to me that you should be able to do this in a well controlled oven after soaking and parboiling the rice. At its heart the final preparation is quite similar to a biryani and many of the same variations should be applicable. And with this bit of information I can probably make rice that is mostly tadig (which is what I want anyway so it becomes a route to both a productivity and effectiveness).

Cheers,

Doc

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helenjp   

Or does it act to wick condensed steam out of the pan so that it does not drip back and reduce the temperature of the rice that is cooking in the fat at the bottom of the stack?

That's what I think...I use a thin Japanese handtowel and fasten it in a bobble over the lid with a rubber band, because I'm afraid the trailing edges might catch fire.

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Or does it act to wick condensed steam out of the pan so that it does not drip back and reduce the temperature of the rice that is cooking in the fat at the bottom of the stack?

That's what I think...I use a thin Japanese handtowel and fasten it in a bobble over the lid with a rubber band, because I'm afraid the trailing edges might catch fire.

I like that technique. So if you are trying to make tadig (only) you should be able to fully cook the rice, toss it with some fat, spread it on a Teflon sheet and bake it at an appropriate temperature until it is all brown and crunchy. Sort of the rice equivalent of oven fries. The remaining question is how long and at what temperature.

Doc

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