Monday, January 4, 2016

Barberry Rice

I've craved this rice from one of our local falafel sandwich shops for years. I never realized what the secret ingredient was -- barberries! A mysterious combination of tangy and sweet. This dish, like everything that comes from this particular cookbook, is highly recommended.

As described below, this dish is a complete meal with protein and starch. You could omit the chicken and use the rice as a side.

This dish is seriously one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth.

Note - the tah dig part didn't work for me, and just made a sticky mess on the bottom of the pan that took several hours to soak out. Feel free to either approach the tah dig as practice, or, consider not worrying about that bottom layer too much.

Barberry Rice
From A Taste of Persia, by Najmieh K Batmanglij

3 c basmati rice
3 lb whole roasting chicken
2 onions, 1 peeled and left whole, 1 thinly slicd
1 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp saffron threads, dissolved in 4 T hot water
2/3 c vegetable oil, butter, or ghee
2 c dried barberries
4 T sugar
2 T yogurt
2 T cumin seeds
2 T almonds, toasted, slivered, for garnish
2 T pistachio nuts, unsalted, slivered, for garnish

Rinse rice 5 times in lukewarm water.

Preheat oven to 400.

Stuff chicken with whole onion, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1 tsp saffron water. Cover and bake 90  minutes. Carve and keep warm until ready to serve.

In a medium pot, heat 2 T oil over medium heat. Add sliced onion and fry 15 minutes. Reduce heat and add barberries and sugar. Cook 1 minute. Set aside. Be careful - barberries burn very easily.

In a large pot, bring 8 c water and 2 T salt to a boil. Add rice and boil briskly for 6-10 minutes, stirring twice to loosen any grains on the bottom. Once rice rises to the top of the pot, it is done.

Drain rice in a large strainer and rinse with 3 c lukewarm water.

In a bowl, whisk together 4 T oil, 1/2 c water, 2 spatulas full of rice, yogurt, and 1 T saffron water. Spread mixture over bottom of pot. This will form the tah dig.

Place 2 spatulas-full of rice in the pot. Continue transferring the rice, mounding it into the shape of a pyramid. Sprinkle each layer with cumin.

Cover pot and cook 10 minutes over medium.

Mix 1 c cold water with 4 T oil and pour over rice. Sprinkle on remaining saffron water.

Place a clean dishtowel over pot. Return lid to pot. Lower heat to low and cook 50 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and cool, still covered, on a damp surface for 5 minutes to loosen crust.

Gently taking 1 spatula full of rice at a time, place the rice on a serving platter in alternating layers with the barberry mixture. Mound rice in the shape of a cone. Arrange chicken around the platter. Finally, decorate the top of the mound with some of the barberry mixture, almonds, and pistachios. Serve the tah dig on the side.

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