Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Persian Rice – Sorry, Measuring Cups

I believe I’ve posted a few “fool proof” methods for cooking “perfect” rice, but this Persian version takes the grand prize, and it’s not even close for second. The beauty of this method is that it doesn’t rely on any specific measurements, or even exact times. This will make some of you very nervous, but just go with it.

As long as the pot you use to boil and steam the grains is large enough, this will work exactly as shown. Since we are basically steaming rice that’s already been par-boiled and drained, there are never any issues with too much, or too little water.

By the way, I’ve only made this a handful of times, and so I’m sure there are many things I could improve on. I hear that soaking the rice in cold, salted water before boiling it helps improve the texture even more, which I find kind of hard to believe.

I mean, is there a level of rice perfection that goes beyond perfection? Probably too deep a question for a food blog about rice, so I’ll simply close by saying, I hope you give this Persian rice a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 Portions:
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed very well
3 quarts water, brought to a boil with 3 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 russets potato, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices
salt to taste
pinch of ground cumin
5 or 6 slices of butter for top
pinch of saffron, ground and mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
parsley to garnish 

41 comments:

Eirik Ølberg said...

I never understood the problem with too little or too much water when boiling rice. Simply use way too much water and pour it off afterwards. Problem solved :)

mattjeast said...

Hey Chef John,

I've got the saffron sitting in the cupboard, but I don't have a mortar and pestle. Is a coffee grinder or an immersion blender in the warm water overkill for the saffron? Or could I just bloom the saffron in hot water?

Nada said...

I looooove Persian food! They have so many ways with rice!

Have you tried their rice cooked with a sauce and then you flip it over to end up with a sort of rice cake with a crust but the middle is fluffy!!!

Chibby said...

Yay, I love fesenjun. That's been my foodwish for the longest time. I tried it at a Persian mom&pop downtown and have been hooked since.

Unknown said...

Does this only work for basmati or can we use other types of long grain rice?

Behzad Motaghi said...

Hi Chef John.

Long time viewer, first time commenter (this is like calling into a radio show).

First, super happy that you are making Persian food. As a guy with a Persian heritage, I love the food and have been trying to cook it for years. Your rice making technique is really good (although I would probably never say "cook the rice for 7 minutes", because it depends on the rice) - you could fool an Iranian with that!

But, I have to point out that the saffron you are using is likely fake, because of the colour, and the fact that you said "you use it for the colour". Real saffron has a much more distinct red-ish colour, even when mixed with water while yours was more yellow-ish, a common trait of fake saffron. Also, real saffron has a very unique taste (hence, the price/demand), which you would taste even with the amount you used (which was quite a lot if it was real saffron - by the way).

With that said, I am really looking forward to your fesenjoon as it is my favourite dish which I never learned to cook!

Hope my words didn't discourage you, I only say it because I am a big fan and I don't want you to be deceived.

Neda Ghazi said...

Hi chef John,
Thanks for sharing us the perfect Persian rice recipe. I agree with behzad about "cook the rice for 7 minues." I would say boil the rice until you won't feel any hard point inside grains. Also, I would sprinkle sliced pistachio instead of chopped parsley on top of the rice. I look forward for fesenjoon recipe.
Thanks again.

Chef John said...

Thanks for the info! But, I know real saffron and that was real saffron. You can tell the smell immediately if it's not.

Chef John said...

You can probably use any long grain rice, but I've only used basmati.

Foodie said...

Hi Chef John!
In Pakistan we always soak the basmati rice for a half hour before using it for any recipe. It does make a difference.

Franklin Tieu said...

Chef John, my grandparents anniversary is coming up and I really wanted to do something special for them, I planned an eastern themed feast with asian foods. However, I also wanted to serve them their first date meal, and the is fafel. So what I am asking you is, can you please show how to make a fafel recipe! Help an 11 year old out!(yes I know I'm pretty young planning a party on my own)

Roberto said...

Chef John:
Your interesting recipe is based on a basic technique I learned when I lived in Iran for a few years. It is a great way to cook ordinary plain rice if you prefer it fluffy rather than sticky. For ordinary rice simply fill a big pot about 2/3 full of salted water and bring to a boil. Pour in a couple of cups of raw, dry, unwashed rice of any type. Boil uncovered until "al dente"; i.e. not fully cooked. I never time it, but 7 to 9 minutes would be a guess. Drain in a colander and rinse under hot tap water to wash off the excess starch. Rinse the cooking pot. Drizzle oil into the bottom of the pot and carefully spoon the hot rice back in SPOON-BY-SPOON into a pyramid shape. You want the rice as fluffy as possible, so DO NOT POUR IT IN ALL AT ONCE AND DO NOT STIR OR PAT DOWN THE RICE. Spoon it in from a height letting it fall into a loose pile.
Then drizzle the pile with a few tablespoons of oil poured in a spiral pattern. Cover with a lid wrapped in cloth or use a paper towel as shown in your video. Steam over low heat for roughly 30 minutes or for nearly as long as you want. After 30 minutes or so the rice will start forming a thin layer of crispy brown rice called Tah Dig. Left for a hour over low heat, the crust will become thicker and even better. If you over-boil the rice, this steaming will take a shorter time and if you under boil it, steaming will take a little bit longer.
The beauty of this technique is that it's quick and easy, no need to measure or time anything, your rice can be held over for a very long time, and your rice turns out perfectly cooked and fluffy each and every time. The bottom crust is a bonus for Persian based recipes. Try it. You'll never go back to measuring and timing rice again.

Neda Ghazi said...

Thanks for sharing us the perfect Persian rice recipe. I agree with behzad about "cook the rice for 7 minues." I would say boil the rice until you won't feel any hard point inside grains. Also, I would sprinkle sliced pistachio instead of chopped parsley on top of the rice. I look forward for the Fesenjoon recipe.
Thanks again.

nortrad said...

Hi!
I ALWAYS wanted to know how that kind of rice was made. That's one Food Wish that's answered. Now I get the potato craving (why get one if you can get both), but in the end that one only wants to serve rice or does not have potatoes on hand, does this still work? I imagine that the bottom layer of rice would then stick? Thanks.

Sick Vans Blog said...

There are some similarities between this cooking technique and biryani.

Coincidentally, my food wish is for you to make an Americanized biryani. Can you just imagine the indignation and hate on your youtube comments?

You could troll a whole subcontinent.

Chef John said...

Franklin, not sure I'll have it done in time, but I've wanted to do a felafel video for a while!

Chef John said...

mattjeast, yes, you can just soak in hot water.

Ctrl Alt Eat said...

To the Persians friends commenting...do you use a different variety of rice when making this dish?

I always thought that Basmati was indigenous to India/Pakistan...

I do like Persian food - it's fragrant, mild and delish.

Thanks Chef John for another great recipe.

~Smoli4~ said...

Hi friend, Sheff John, that is..
thank you for this rice recipe! me and my girlfriend have tried making this kind of rice and never succeeded because we didnt know how!
so we thank you deeply for your efforts in making this video available, and for your great personality! thanks.

coreoposis said...

Do you have a technique for making fluffy brown rice?

Kia Dufun said...

Hi chef John!
I saw your recipe and had to try it right away! I used ordinary white rice since I made a mistake at the grocery store and did not want to throw plain white rice. It's not minute rice either! The outcome of the rice was soooo nice, fluffy and all but my pet peave is that the potatoes never crisped! I cooked for more than an hour and a half and still no crispiness (nor color for that matter!) They were just oil soaked!... and very mushy! But loooooved the rice : so fluffy, thank you so much! It's a MUST try recipe!

Fereshtina said...

I am Persian. The soaking (for at least 4-5 hours) makes a difference.
Also, Fesenjan is my favorite dish. LOVE YOU CHEF!

yaya kamal said...

I tried it .. great flabout and texture of the rice .. I loved the potatoes as well ...
thanks a million ..
I got a photo of my version but I don't know how to attach it

Mark Leggett said...

Made the rice but had no saffron. So I used the rice to make the best Chinese fried rice ever! Really light and fluffy. What a treat!!

Ed Adams said...

Chef J.

You answered this question already bu just doubl checking that aborio rice would work.

Chef John said...

Sorry, but Aborio will not work. Must be a long grain rice.

Ed Adams said...

After getting in my pantry and looking at my arborio rice and comparing it to my bag of long grain i could see the difference. Before that it was all just rice. So, i made it with my normal california long grain and it turned out great. I need to do it again and not forget the butter next time.

deli msgh said...

Im a persian and a big fan of you ...
I would say u made it perfect as usual !
Thanks chef ...

Anand-Share said...

hi Chef John,

can we do the last 45 min in a overn instead of stove top.

Chef John said...

Not sure! Never tried that!

Lefty said...

Yup! I remember emailing you last year around this time suggesting you could take Persian cooking to a different level. There would be a few things I would do differently (as a Persian!) such as using a non stick pot and dumping the rice back so it would come out like a cake etc Yet, this was awesome to see you try Persian food! Keep it coming Chef John!

Caroline Quain said...

Yum yum yum. This is amazing. Thank you! I replaced the potaoes with aubergines & it was very good as well.

Viika28 said...

Hi! I was wondering if I doubled the recipe to say 4cups instead of 2cups rice, do I double the salt to 6tbsp salt as well??? Thanks!

geospelvin said...

Skip the saffron which is a bit hard to find in my area (and WAYYYYY too expensive when you do find it). Instead, use a 1/4 or 1/2tsp of ground tumeric. This is easier to find, less expensive, and does the exact same thing: colors the rice.

flxcurmudgeon said...

Tip #25,792: Make extra potatoes! The pan bottom is never big enough to match potato slices with appetites.

flxcurmudgeon said...

Tip #25,793: Add sautéed onions and peppers for more color and a little crunch.

Just do them in a different pan and add just before serving.

Want to add some sweetness? Toast some shredded coconut and add just before serving.

I also add fresh lime zest if serving with tandoori chicken, curried lamb, etc.

flxcurmudgeon said...

Chef John,

How about de-mystifying the ever changing maqluba?

Your Persian rice is so close to a basic maqluba process, that readers will easily see the jump to a one-dish-meal.

BTW, after transferring the rice to a serving pot, I kept it warm on a burner. The rice on the bottom got nice and carmelized. My aunty called this "tadiq". Sadly it ha come to mean something else entirely in America.

Chef John said...

I have to take exception to the tumeric comment. While it's true it will turn the rice yellow if you use enough, it does not provide the distinctive flavor of saffron, which I think is one of the keys to this dish!

Shy Alter said...

This is a brilliant recipe in its simplicity. My dinner guest loved it mostly for the potatoes flavour. So while the rice is its main ingredient, it's the potatoes that will take the prize. All that butter now simmers through the rice and gets absorbed in the soft flesh of the potato slices, and then combined with the caramelized flavour makes for a sublime experience. One thing I did, is have some space left between the potato slices, ending up with gently caramelized, crunchy layer of rice.

John Fleming said...

I did this in a quart saucepan with about 3/4 to 1 cup of regular plain old long grain white rice
I put garlic powder instead of cumin and half a diced onion over the taters. it was great too, especially with the bits of onion that browned... yum.

also on a separate try I lightly pounded out a chicken breast just to cover the potato slices.. I seasoned it to taste and it was so moist and juicy.
I put the remainder of the potato over top with some butter, salt, pepper but they weren't completely cooked so i just finished them in a pan with the liquid the chicken produced and the butter, including the potatoes at the bottom just so they could be friends.. future attempts i just put the rest of the potato over the first layer

I lowered the cooking time for both to 35 minutes for the smaller portion, still on low of course

I've made the rice probably 4 times in the last week and can't stop telling people about it. These videos have changed the way I cook.
I wonder if putting fennel(roasted? raw?) at the bottom would make sense..or radish? turnip? Bacon? a dash of soylent green? Thanks Chef John

Tazleem Khan said...

Chef John,
When making a dish that calls for red wine or white wine and you don't want to use those ingredients, are there any legitimate alternatives that will provide a similar taste? For example, linguine with clam sauce I've seen made with white wine, can I use any other ingredients in its place to provide a similar taste and characteristics? Would you be able to post some recipes using the alternatives? Thank you.