Friday, December 05, 2008

Jewel Rice (Morasa Polow)

- 400g Long grain rice
- 50g Barberries (black currrants or cranberries can be used instead, but barberries are the feature of this Persian dish, so it defeats the "Persian-ness" of the recipe. If black currants are used, no sugar is required)
- 50g Sultanas (raisins can be substituted)
- 50g Blanched almonds
- 50g Pistachio kernels
- 25g Hazelnut kernels
- 50g Walnut kernels
- 1 cup Fresh orange peel (mixed peel is OK as a substitute)
- 100g Butter or ghee
- 1 Tbspn Sugar
- Salt

Rinse the rice to remove the surface powder and starch. If the rice isn't cleaned it will become sticky. Optionally soak it in warm water for 2 hours as well, then drain the water.

Wash barberries and sultanas with cold water and drain. Fry separately in oil or ghee over medium heat for a few minutes. Add some sugar to the barberries during frying.

Wash the nuts with cold water, soak for about 15 minutes and drain. The pistachios and the walnuts should be soaked separately if you don't wish their colour to stain the other nuts. Slice or crush the nuts until the pieces are about the same size as the sultanas. Fry all the nuts for a few minutes, careful not to burn or discolour them.

Orange Peel
Thinly slice the orange peels. Boil for a few minutes, drain and repeat. Soak in cold water for an hour, drain, and repeat. Finally boil for a few minutes with a few spoons of sugar to remove the peel bitterness, and drain (dried mixed peel can be used instead of orange peel and this preparation avoided).

Pour about 6 cups of water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and a spoonful of salt and continue boiling until the rice slightly softens, but is not completely cooked. This will take about 5 minutes. Pour the rice into a colander and wash it with slightly warm water. Set aside a cup (or a little bit more) of rice by itself. With the remainder, mix in the orange peel.

Pour a few spoonfuls of cooking oil or melted ghee into a pot and add the plain rice to the bottom to make a layer. This bottom layer prevents the orange peel buring during cooking. Pile the remainder of the rice with the orange peel on top. Form it into a cone or pyramid and poke some holes down through it to allow steam to pass up through the rice pile. Put about 50g of butter/ghee on top of the rice. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for about half an hour. If cooking time is increased, the bottom layer of rice becomes crispy (called ta-dig). If too much steam condenses under the pot lid it will drip down and make the rice soggy. Wrapping a cloth or teatowel around the lid will soak up the steam condensate.

When it is ready to serve, mix all the nuts, sultanas and half the barberries through the rice. The remainder of the barberries should be sprinkled over the top of the mix.

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