In the Iranian culture, the method of cooking rice is a ceremonial process because it involves several steps and heritage secrets. The overall objective is to achieve a fluffy and fragrant rice without a single grain broken or stuck in another. This is until tachin, or Persian saffron rice came along, which is comparable to a savoury rice cake which is baked and crisp to perfection.
Basmati rice is the type of rice that is perfect for this dish and it should be parboiled before being mixed with other ingredients. Often layered with meat and spices, as well as dried fruit like barberries, Persian saffron rice can be presented in a rectangular or circular shape. There are a couple of steps needed to prepare this flavourful dish that will surely intrigue your palate.
- Dried Fruits
Once the rice is parboiled, you can turn your attention to the dried fruits and the best one to infuse in this dish is barberries. In a skillet, melt some butter over low heat and cook the barberries until they are slightly plumped. Remove your barberries from heat and add in some rose water.
- Yoghurt Mixture
You can forget your dried barberries for a while as you prepare your yoghurt mixture next. While doing so, remember to preheat your oven. Let some saffron sit in a couple of tablespoons of hot water, allowing this legendary spice to draw out its bold and red colour. After which, mix in some egg yolks, yoghurt and oil. Season the mixture with some salt and scatter it over your parboiled basmati rice. Make sure that every grain of your rice is coated with this yoghurt mixture.
You can use either a circular or rectangular pan but a clear glass pie dish will aid you in checking the colour of your rice underneath later on. Line your pan with oil and spread half of your rice mixture into it, pushing with the palm of your hands to ensure that the layer is compact. Scatter some pieces of meat, as well as you dried barberries before spreading the other half of your rice over it. Press down again to make sure that your layers are firm.
Cover your dish tightly with foil and pop it into the oven. Bake it until the rice on the bottom of the dish has that golden brown colour. This will take about an hour to an hour and a half. After baking, make sure that the rice is cool enough before you loosen it around its edges. Invert the rice into a serving plate and garnish with more dried barberries and even some slivered pistachios.
To wrap things up, making some Persian saffron rice may prove to be quite challenging because of the intricate process involved in it. Rest assured that once you serve it to your families and friends, your efforts will all be worth it. Go ahead and have a taste of Persian goodness in your plate and venture out in stocking your pantry with their unique but flavourful spices.