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Rice with Apricots (Qeysi polow)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pound boned leg or shoulder of lamb or boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoons ea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon advieh (Persian spice mix)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 3 cups long-grain basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup oil, butter or ghee
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 1/4 cups dried apricots, quartered
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Method

  • 1. In a sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat and brown the onions and meat. Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, advieh, and lime juice. Pour in 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and simmer for 55 minutes over low heat until the meat is almost tender. Add the saffron-rose water and set aside.
  • 2. To cook the rice: Clean and wash 3 cups rice 5 time in warm water. It is then desirable but not essential to soak the rice in 8 cups water with 2 tablespoons of salt for at least 2 hours.
  • 3. In a wide skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil and brown the onions. Add apricots, dates, and raisins, and sauté for several minutes. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and sauté for 1 minute longer. Set aside.
  • 4. Bring 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large non-stick pot. Pour the washed and drained rice into the pot. Boil briskly for 6 to 10 minutes, gently stirring twice with a wooden spoon to loosen any grains that may have stuck to the bottom. Bite a few grains of the rice. If it feels soft and all of it has risen to the surface, it is ready. Drain in a large, fine mesh colander and rinse with 2 or 3 cups water.
  • 5. To make the golden crust (tah-dig):In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup water, a few drops of the saffron-rose water, the yogurt, and 2 spatulas of rice. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pot.
  • 6. Place 2 spatulas full of rice in the pot. Add 1 spatula of the meat, raisins, apricots, and dates mixture. Repeat, alternating the rice and meat, and the fruit mixture. Mound in the shape of a pyramid.
  • 7. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • 8. Mix the remaining oil and 1/2 cup of the meat juices and pour over the rice. Pour the remaining saffron-rose water over the top.
  • 9.Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover firmly to prevent the steam from escaping. Cook another 70 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a damp surface without uncovering.
  • 10. Uncover the pot, remove 2 tablespoons of the saffron-rose water rice and set aside for garnish.
  • 11. Gently, taking 1 spatula full at a time. place rice on a serving platter without disturbing the crust. Place the meat on the platter. Mound the rice in the shape of a cone. Decorate with the saffron-flavored. 12. Detach the crust from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spatula. Unmold onto a small platter and serve on the side. Serve hot with fresh herbs and salad. Vegetarian Variation: Eliminate the meat from the ingrediants and step 1. Cook 2 cups mung beans in 6 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt over medium heat for 15 minutes. Drain and add at the end of step 3 together with 2 teaspoons ground cumin. Other Variations: Rice with Turnips (Shalgham polow): In step 3, replace the apricots, cinnamon, and nutmeg with 1 pound turnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes, fried until golden brown. Add 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 2 teaspoons ground cumin. Rice with Quince (Beh polow): In step 3, replace the apricots with 2 pounds quince, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes, and fried until golden brown. Remove from the skillet and fry the onion per step 3. Then return the quince back to the skillet and add the rest of the ingrediants. Note: You may replace the chicken piecews with roasted chicken pieces on the bone.
  • 12. Detach the crust from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spatula. Unmold onto a small platter and serve on the side. Serve hot with fresh herbs and salad.
  • Vegetarian Variation: Eliminate the meat from the ingrediants and step 1. Cook 2 cups mung beans in 6 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt over medium heat for 15 minutes. Drain and add at the end of step 3 together with 2 teaspoons ground cumin.
  • Other Variations: Rice with Turnips (Shalgham polow): In step 3, replace the apricots, cinnamon, and nutmeg with 1 pound turnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes, fried until golden brown. Add 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 2 teaspoons ground cumin. Rice with Quince (Beh polow): In step 3, replace the apricots with 2 pounds quince, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes, and fried until golden brown. Remove from the skillet and fry the onion per step 3. Then return the quince back to the skillet and add the rest of the ingrediants.
  • Note: You may replace the chicken piecews with roasted chicken pieces on the bone.