This dish is so colorful and pretty, that it is perfect in my opinion for these fall days where everything is pale and gray. We don’t get much of a foliage here, and instead the sky is cloudy all the time but the sun shines just as bright (in Jerusalem, at least. The other parts of the country, I’m told, are still just as insufferably hot and humid as in the middle of summer). The cinnamon notes in it makes it taste like “home”, even though my parents never made this rice when I was living with them.
Mr. Graceful is half-Persian and so naturally he’s the one that makes the Persian dishes around here, but I somehow managed to claim this one all to myself.
I don’t think authentic Persian grandmothers would ever use anything other than Persian white rice, but I love me my brown rice… Especially short-grain brown rice, which is what I use here. It is very different from the long-grain variety, and I found that even the pickiest eaters devour the stuff like it was pasta.
Although the rice takes quite a long time to cook (can’t rush everything, can we?), it’s still a very easy dish to make, making it ideal to prepare at the end of the weekend and “ration out” to university/work/whatever every day. Goes well with stew-type dishes, stir-fries, and curries.
Spiced Persian Style Brown Rice:
Serves: 4 hungry people
Estimated Time: 10 minutes work + between 45 and 90 minutes wait
Kosher Classification: Neutral
2 cups short grain brown rice
4.5 cups water
handful dried apricots, pitted
handful prunes, pitted
Handful sliced almonds
2 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp dried chili flakes
3 Tbs turmeric
1 Tbs table salt
Start by heating a bit of oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the two cardamom pods and crush them with your wooden spoon until they crack. That way, their flavor will come out way more in the rice as their little black seeds fall out.
If you really don’t like the taste of cardamom (or any other spice), you can leave it out. Just remember… The more spices you omit, the further your dish is from spiced rice.
Dump the rice into the pot and add the salt. Stir thoroughly until each grain of rice is coated with oil. What you’re looking for is for each grain to look wet and slightly more clear in color.
Add the rest of the spices…
…And mix until they are thoroughly incorporated in the rice. An easy measure is if all the rice has been colored yellow by the turmeric.
Add the dried fruits and mix until evenly combined.
Pour in the water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Once the water is bubbling, give it another stir, cover with a lid, and lower the heat to the lowest setting.
Cooking time varies depending on the rice used, but it usually ranges from 45 to 90 minutes. Try to limit the number of times you open the lid to check on the water level, as the rice needs every bit of steam trapped in that pot. A clear glass lid is very helpful here, but not mandatory.
In the meantime, roast the almonds in a heavy pan over medium-low heat. Roast until they brown a bit and become fragrant.
After all the water has cooked into the rice, turn off the heat and leave the lid on the pot(!) for 15 minutes. No opening the pot “just to see!”
Before serving, mix the almonds into the rice.
In A Nutshell:
- In a medium pot over medium heat, heat some oil (no more than a tablespoon). Add the cardamom pods and poke until cracked.
- Add rice and salt and stir until each grain is coated with oil.
- Add remaining spices and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
- Add dried fruits and mix well.
- Add water and stir. Wait for water to come to a boil.
- Once water comes to a boil, lower the heat and cook between 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the rice. (Try to limit the number of times you open the pot to check water level).
- Meanwhile, roast almonds in a heavy pan over medium-low heat, until they brown a little and become fragrant.
- After rice is ready (no more water is visible), turn off heat and keep pot closed for 15 minutes.
- Before serving, mix in roasted almonds.