Rice Iranian Style:
Polo (fluffy white rice)
3 cups white long grain rice such as Basmati or Persian domsiah (do NOT use instant)
4 TBS salt, divided (most of this is rinsed out)
4 - 8 TBS butter, divided
optional (see note): 1/2 tsp saffron; a bit of white vinegar or plain yoghurt
1. Rinse the rice in lukewarm water until the water runs clear and no husks or floaters remain; then soak the rice in 2 TBS of salt and cold water for at least 4 hours, then drain the water.
2. Fill a large non-stick pot with 2 1/2 quarts water, add 2 TBS salt and bring it to a rolling boil.
3. Pour in the rice. Stir once or twice to prevent the grains from sticking together. Boil hard for exactly 10 minutes. Use a timer!
4. Drain in a large colander; rinse well under cool water and drain (this removes the starch and leads to a fluffier rice).
5. Melt the 1/2 the butter in the pot over medium high heat, then add the boiled rice a spoon at a time in the shape of a cone, then add the rest of the butter evenly on top of the rice.
NOTE: Some Iranian cooks gently stir in a bit of vinegar or 1/2 cup yoghurt at this point to whiten the rice and make it more flavorful.
6. Place a dish towel or larger towel over the inside of a lid. Bring the overlapping edges up over the top of the lid and tie or fasten. Cover the rice with this lid. (The cloth absorbs the moisture preventing rice from being soggy or sticky and allows the rice to steam evenly)
7. Steam the rice over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then turn down to a low heat and cook for 30-35 minutes. The rice will be ready when, upon lifting the lid, a cloud of steam emerges from the pot. The heat can then be turned to low to keep the rice warm until ready to serve.
8. Dish out the rice on a slotted spoon, fluffing it as you place it on a serving plate. For fancy occasions, take a cup or two of the cooked rice and add a bit of crushed saffron diluted in a tablespoon of boiling water and melted butter to the rice and mix, then place on top of the rest of the rice on the serving platter. Saffron adds flavor and color.
9. A crust of tah-dig (crunchy rice) will have formed on the bottom of the pan. To serve this in one unbroken piece, immerse the bottom of the pan in cold water for a few minutes, then pry the tah-dig loose with a spatula.
Tah-dig variations (for different flavored rice crust):
Option 1: Mix 1 cup of parboiled rice with 1 egg yolk and spread this all over the melted butter in the bottom of the pot before adding the rest of the rice to cook.
Option 2: Mix 1 cup of parboiled rice with 1/4 tsp saffron and 3 TBS plain yoghurt and spread this all over the melted butter in the bottom of the pot before adding the rest of the rice to cook.
Option 3: Lay 2-3 layers of lavash (soft flatbread) over the melted butter in the bottom of the pot before adding the rest of the rice to cook.
~*~ From Mom ~*~