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  • Writer's pictureClare

Samin Nosrat's Persian-ish Rice with saffron and herbs

Samin Nosrat is one of my favorite chefs to learn from. Her book, Salt Fat Acid Heat, is essential for anyone who wants to learn to cook without depending on recipes. Of course, she also provides a ton of great recipes.

Persian-ish rice is basmati rice that is cooked like pasta and then in a skillet - you boil the rice in lots of salted water and drain it. Then, you continue to cook the rice in a skillet to make a golden, crispy bottom - the tahdig. Food52 has Samin's recipe here (it's also in her book, which I highly recommend you buy from your favorite independent bookstore.)

Here's how I make Persian-ish rice with saffron and herbs:

1) Make saffron tea: in a mortar and pestle, grind a pinch of saffron and a pinch of coarse salt. When it becomes a fine powder, add 2 tablespoons of boiling water and let it steep.

2) Bring 4 quarts water to a boil. (It's important to actually measure the water for this recipe!)

3) Rinse 2 cups of basmati rice. I rinse my rice in a strainer in the sink until the water running through the rice looks clear.

4) When the water is boiling, add 1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Once it has dissolved, add your rice and cook it for 7 minutes. (If you are using another brand of kosher salt, google how it compares to Diamond Crystal - different salts have different saltiness, and if you are using another brand like Morton's, you'll want to use a different amount of salt.)

5) Drain the rice and rinse it under cold water. This ensures it doesn't continue cooking from its residual heat.

6) Mix 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt with the saffron tea. Then mix 1 cup of the cooked rice into the saffron yogurt.

7) Add 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of neutral oil in a 10-inch skillet. When the butter melts, put the yogurt rice in the pan and spread it out into an even layer covering the bottom of the pan. Some of the butter and oil will spread up over the top of the rice - that's fine!

8) Mix fresh herbs into the remaining rice. I like dill, parsley, and mint but any soft herbs will work. Put this rice on top of the yogurt rice in the skillet.

9) Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke a few holes in the rice. This allows steam to easily escape from the bottom of the skillet, ensuring that the bottom gets crispy.

10) Cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the bottom begins to become crispy. If you look in the steam holes or around the edges, you should start to see some golden rice. You'll also notice that the rice will smell toastier.

11) Lower the heat. Tie a kitchen towel over the lid for the pan and cover it. The towel prevents steam from condensing on the pan and dripping back into the rice and making it soggy. Be sure to tie the towel tightly and tuck in the ends so it doesn't catch on fire! Cook the rice for another 10-15 minutes.

12) Turn off the heat. Put a plate over the top of the pan. Carefully flip the pan over so the rice transfers onto the plate. Lift up the pan to reveal your crispy tahdig!


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