This rice dish has to be one of my all time favorite rice dishes of all time and this is from a person who isn’t wild about rice. Don’t get me wrong, I like rice just fine but I have friends and family who can just go to town on a bowl of plain ass rice and that’s just not me. I think it’s great as a vehicle to sop up and absorb delicious curries, stews and sauces but my mouth doesn’t water at the sight of a dry ass pile of fluffy white rice.
But this rice is different. It may have a lot to do with the copious amounts of butter used but I think it also has to do with the several cups of fresh chopped herbs that are mixed in and the caramelized golden crust, called tadig in Farsi, that really makes it special. I could sit down and make an entire meal out of just this rice, it is that good. It doesn’t need a sauce or stew to give it flavor because it’s packed with plenty of that on its own. And it’s pretty easy to make if you have a rice cooker. This is a traditional dish for Persian New Year or Nowruz and the herbs represent rebirth, new beginnings and Spring.
One of the things that all Persian rice dishes call for is washing the rice until the water runs clear. This is one of the most time consuming parts of this whole recipe. It’s amazing how much freaking starch is in that rice! You are basically taking all of the nutritional value out of the rice and then replacing it with the good stuff in the herbs, garlic and butter. During the cooking process the rice grains absorb all of the delicious flavors of the herbs and butter so that they are one when it comes out of the rice cooker. Heaven.
This rice is traditionally served with fish for Nowruz and I found some nice local, wild caught, sustainable fish at my local farmer’s market to go with this rice. But seriously, you could make a meal of this rice alone and it would be an epic meal.
Adapted from New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij
- 3 cups long grain basmati rice
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives or scallions
- 2 cups chopped fresh dill
- 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cups fresh cilantro
- 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1/2 cup of butter sliced into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 teaspoon of saffron threads, crushed and dissolved in 4 Tablespoons of hot water
- 2 Tablespoons barberrries or zereshk (optional)
- Place rice in a large bowl and fill with warm water to cover by a few inches. Stir the rice with your hands until the water is milky white. Strain and repeat until the water runs clear or as close to clear as your patience will allow. The cleaner the rice the more fluffy it comes out in the end.
- In a large dutch oven boil 8 cups of water and 2 Tablespoons of salt. Pour in the rinsed rice and boil for a few minutes (5-10) until rice is al dente. It should be almost done but not completely soft in the center because it’s going to cook some more.
- Drain cooked rice and then put in a large bowl with the chopped herbs and pressed garlic. Toss to combine. Make sure the herbs are thoroughly distributed throughout the rice.
- Put the rice and herb mixture into the rice cooker and arrange the butter slices on top.
- Pour the saffron water over the top of everything and then put the lid on the rice cooker and cook for an hour or at the highest setting according to the manufacturers instructions.
- When the rice is done cooking, take off the lid and turn the rice out onto a platter. Garnish with barberries and serve immediately.