my noosi’s dill herbed rice {شوید پلو} with black-eyed peas {loobia cheshm bolboli}: shevid polow

 

persian style dill herbed rice with blackened peasas soon as i saw the beautifully green bunches of fresh dill at the market i knew what i wanted (or almost had) to make with them. dill-herbed rice, or shevid-polow as we call it in farsi. dill is one of my absolute favorite herbs i can never resist buying when it is in season looking all fresh and darkish green and beautiful. i love the scent it creates and leaves in my kitchen as i chop it, and the slightly different aroma that surrounds me as it steams away with the basmati rice. [talking

black eyed peas and rice

about scents and aromas reminds me of a side note: this post on the lovely perfume blog kafkaesque references mine on baghali polow, another dish loaded with fresh dill]. as with most my food obsessions, i first fell in love with dill in my grandmother’s kitchen in Tehran-it seems to me she was always chopping herbs-or maybe i was so often around when she did, because i loved watching (and smelling) her doing it so much. it was the way she bunched them tightly together with one hand while gracefully slicing them ever so thinly with the other. she was a true expert with the knife. and so many other things. thinking back on it, hers was not a sophisticated kitchen with many fancy gadgets-but trust me when i tell you some serious magic happened there. and boy was i lucky to be a small part of it as taster/assistant/taster/observer/taster in chief.

finely chopped dill even though i didn’t fully realize it then, she was constantly, indirectly, and deliberately teaching me things every time i was with her.  i can hear her voice in my head: sharing, reminding, cautioning, praising, cautioning some more. one of the dishes she taught me was shevid polow layered with her favorite beans: black-eyed peas, or “cheshm bolboli” (translates to parrot eyes for obvious reasons). It is the type of absolutely delicious nourishing dish that reminds you of all good things and fills you with pure (stomach) contentment. well worth the work and the wait.

how to make shevid polow  {for 4-6}:

  • making persian rice with herbs2-2.5 cups finely chopped fresh dill (remove the thicker stalks, wash, allow dill to dry, then chop)
  • 2-3 cups basmati rice, washed several times in water until it runs clear
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dry rose petals (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron
  • 1-1.5  cups black-eyed peas, cooked (soak overnight and cook until just tender)
  • sea salt to taste (and for boiling the rice)

persian steamed rice with herbs

    1. bring a big pot (non stick) of salted water to boil (about 6-8 cups). add washed and drained basmati rice. allow it to come to a rolling boil and  keep the heat on high for about 7-9 minutes. turn off the heat and drain the rice in a mesh colander. wash with cold water and allow it to drain. also see this recipe for inspiration.
    2. add about 3-4 tbs of vegetable oil, 2-3 tsp of water and 1/2 of the ground saffron (or 4-6 saffron strands seeped in hot water) to the nonstick pan. heat together for 1-2 minutes on high. remove from heat and add a thin layer of rice, followed by a generous layer of dill and black-eyed peas (see pictures above). sprinkle evenly and lightly with cumin seeds, sea salt to taste, and cinnamon. (with your hands or a spatula) carefully combine everything together as you go.
    3. repeat this process until your ingredients are used and you have created a “dome” or pyramid of layers. top with remaining saffron and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, cumin seeds, and rose petals. drizzle with another 3-4 tbs of oil (using a slotted spatula to evenly distribute) and about 1/4 cup of water.
    4. cover the pot first with a paper towel or clean dishtowel and then tightly with the lid. Heat the pot on high for about 8-10 minutes (stay close to the pot)-this will help create the favorite crispy rice (tag-deeg) at the bottom of the pot. reduce the heat after 10 minutes (at most) to med/low and allow the rice to steam for another 45 minutes to an hour. serve with saffron braised chicken, veal or lamb shanks and a shirazi salad (tomatoes, persian cucumbers, green onions, mint, lime juice, olive oil, sea salt & pepper).

shevid polow tahdeeg

 

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zereshk polow (barberry rice) with braised saffron chicken: the ultimate comfort food for a lazy sunday

there are times when you are so hungry or tired (or simply in need of a meal that gives you pure comfort) that you can’t really decide what you’d like to eat. this happens often at our house (not so pleasant when i’m the hungry one), and typically one of the only meals that gets a thumbs up from everyone under these circumstances is (persian) chicken and rice or “morgh polo,” (aka life saver)-which is simply steamed basmati rice with slow braised chicken. the rice is often flavored with saffron, or in my family, with a blend of rose petals, whole toasted cumin seeds, cinnamon, and saffron. if you want to make “zereshk polo” you leave out the spices and top the rice with slightly sweetened and buttered barberries flavored with saffron. today i’m making our traditional family chicken and rice dish.  i’m adding the barberries…so (zereshk polo) barberry rice,  our way. you can (and should) play with this general recipe to make it your own by adding (to the barberry mix) nuts such as toasted slivered almonds or pistachios, and raisins or currants-or by subtracting any of the spices you might not like. let’s start with the braised* saffron chicken, for about six:

scroll down for SHIRAZI salad recipe:

BRAISED SAFFRON CHICKEN:

  • about 2 pounds of organic skinless chicken-(either whole cut up chicken, or a combination of thighs, breasts, and drumsticks)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (see below)
  • 2 tbs turmeric
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs safflower (or your preferred vegetable) oil
  • 1 tsp ground saffron (or a few strands seeped in warm water)

*braising is the cooking method where the food is seared (browned in a pan at a high temperature) first, then simmered with a small amount of liquid in a closed pot (pot with a lid) until tender.

chicken with water added, ready to simmer for 1 and 1/2 hour
1. heat the oil in a deep skillet, add the onions, and sautee until almost golden, then add the chicken to the pot and sprinkle with the turmeric, sea salt, and cracked pepper. sear chicken pieces on both sides on meduim/high heat (be careful not to burn the onions).
2. add a small cup (slightly less) of water and the bay leaves, cover (letting the steam out slightly), and allow the chicken to simmer softly on med/low heat for at least one hour, preferably an hour and a half. check the chicken often to make sure you don’t need to add water, adding only a little at a time if necessary-after about 1.5 hours, the onions should be almost melted, and the chicken should be very tender. 
3. add the saffron (diluted in a tiny bit of warm water) and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. don’t add the saffron any sooner, as it will lose intensity of odor and flavor. you can cook the chicken ahead (leaving the saffron out), and reheat (add saffron) for 10-15 minutes prior to serving. your chicken should be falling off the bone-if you use boneless, it is ready to serve, otherwise, remove any extra (unattractive) bones, and serve over the rice with the wonderful juices (which should be slightly thickened).
for the rice:

  • 2-3 tbsps kosher salt
  • 3 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs dry rose petals (gole sorkh)
  • 1 tsp (or about 10-12 whole strands seeped in water) ground saffron
  • 1/2 to 1 cup barberries (cleaned)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1-2 tsp brow cane sugar or 2 tsp good orange marmalade
  • 2-3 tbsp oil (safflower)

1. boil about 8 cups of water with 2 tbs kosher salt. clean and wash your rice about 4-5 times until the water is clear, and add it to the boiling water. now the tricky part-keep a close eye on the rice while it boils briskly (on high) for about 6-10 minutes, and gently stir a few times (not too much). when the rice looks like it has softened (at about 7 minutes), drain it in a large fine mesh colander. rinse with warm water.

2. in the same pot heat the oil (you can use clarified butter if you’d like) with 2-3 tbsp water, and a small touch of your ground saffron (1/4 tsp). start with a few spatulas of rice at the bottom of the pot over the oil, followed by a sprinkling of  cinnamon, cumin, and rose petals. keep layering this way creating a pyramid-rice then spices until you have finished your ingredients.  pour 1/2 cup water (i use a slotted spatula to evenly distribute). place a clean dish towel (or you can use paper towels) on top of the pot and cover firmly with your lid. do not remove the lid after this.

3. cook on medium high for about 10 minutes *(don’t move away from the pot or you’ll forget-set a timer if you have to)*, then reduce heat to medium/low and cook for 50-60 minutes more without lifting the lid (lets the steam escape).

4. serve your rice with the chicken all around, drizzle all the juices on the rice, then top with your barberry mixture:
melt butter in a small sauce pan, then add cleaned barberries and either some cane brown sugar or the orange marmalade (mostly the syrup)-keep the heat on low as barberries can burn very easily. add saffron (diluting it with a few drops of warm water prior to adding). combine well, turn off the heat.




SHIRAZI SALAD:

combine together in a bowl (4-6 servings)

  • 6-7 peeled or un-peeled finely cubed organic persian cucumbers 
  • 3 medium cubed ripe tomatoes 
  • 3-4 sliced green onions (or 2 tsp finely minced red onion)
  • small bunch finely chopped flat leaf parsley 
  • 3-4 tbs lime juice (freshly squeezed) 
  • 2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil 
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

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