Friday, May 25, 2012

Javaher Polow - Persian Jeweled Rice

I was going through the "baby blogging" label on my blog with M, who is now almost 6 and found that I had forgotten most things I'd written earlier about her. She loves hearing about stories from her past. For the last couple years, I've written almost nothing about the kids and I now realize, this is a very good medium to store anecdotes. I find that I have very little patience with watching videos and only rarely do I see old pictures. So basically, I'm saying, be warned for future posts having more kid references :)

Just last week, M launched into a monologue about children. "Amma, I've decided to have only one kid. It gets so difficult with two. If one is happy, the other is not. One will always be troubling the other. And how many time-outs can I give time-outs? I will lose my patience (you know where she got that from!). It will be very difficult for me and the kids." And in a different conversation a few weeks ago, she assured me and her dad that she would never get married and never leave our house. Now these two dots, I'm not gonna connect :)

S turned two last month and he's a handful. Always finding ways to trouble his sister - pulling her hair, blocking her TV view, snatching her things etc. He can string many words together now. Many times, he is hard to understand though and we end up playing "guess the word" game, with M, N and I speculating on what it might be, while S says "no" and patiently repeats the word for the 10th time. We usually get it after a few tries but many words are still un-guessed so far :)

Every once in a while, I go through a phase (which only lasts a day or two or a dish or two, really!) where I go all out and make complicated dishes or take no shortcuts, like I'm known for. For example, I toast and grind cumin and coriander and make fresh garam masala especially for a dish. This dish here was made during one such phase. This recipe has more steps than most recipes here but it isn't as complicated as it looks.

This Persian rice is called Javaher Polow or jeweled rice, with it's many dried fruits and nuts representing various gemstones. I adapted the recipe from here and here. This pretty looking rice is typically served at weddings. The bottom layer of this rice is purposely burnt to form a crust (called tahdig) and is considered a delicacy. Read a funny story about tahdig here.

Javaher Polow

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked rice (preferably basmati), rinsed and soaked in water for 15 minutes
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup each, raisins, slivered almonds and cashews (add other nuts - pista, walnuts etc)
1/4 cup dried barberries (I subbed with dried cranberries)
1 medium sized carrot, peeled and julienned
rind of 1/2 an orange, peeled and cut into thin strips
a few saffron strands, dissolved in a few tbsps of water
1 tbsp sugar
2-3 whole cardamoms
1 small stick of cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
a pinch of turmeric
3-4 tbsp oil, divided
salt to taste

Method:

In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add a couple whole cardamoms and a small stick of cinnamon and fry for a few seconds. Drain the soaked rice and add to the spice seasoned oil. Sauté for a few seconds. Add 2 cups of water, salt to taste. Close the lid and cook for one whistle.
In the meantime, soak the orange rind strips in cold water for a few minutes. Rinse and repeat for another 2 times. This removes any bitterness that the rind has. Just make sure there isn't any white part of the rind to begin with.
Soak dried cranberries & raisins in water for 5-10 minutes.
In a small pan, combine sugar with about 1/2 a cup of water and bring to a boil. Add the carrot and orange zest strips and let them cook on low for at least 15-20 minutes. It took me almost half an hour to get soft, candied carrots and oranges.
And while the carrots are being candied, heat a tbsp of oil and fry the onion strips until golden brown. Sprinkle some turmeric on top. Add the dried cranberries and raisins and fry for a few minutes.
Toast the almonds and the roughly chopped cashews and any other nuts you are using, in a pan with little or no oil.
In a thick bottomed pan, heat some oil. Spread some rice at the bottom. Sprinkle some saffron water. Spread some carrot-rind mixture. Sprinkle the ground spices on top, then the toasted nuts and onion-raisin-cranberries mixture.
Repeat the layering one more time, ending with rice at the top. Cover tight and cook on low for at least 15 minutes, for all the flavors to combine. Since I used the pressure cooker and the rice was fully cooked, 15 minutes was fine. If the rice has a bit of a crunch left, cook for 40-45 minutes.
Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with remaining nuts and berries. The whole thing is the presentation and mine does need work. The links I've provided have some amazing looking pics.
This is typically served with chicken, meat balls and yogurt, says T&S. I served with some matar paneer in a thick makhani/butter sauce and yogurt.
Enjoy!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Kookoo Kadoo - Persian Zucchini Frittata

What a fun sounding name, right? Kookoo Kadoo! These Persian frittatas made with zucchini are a hit with kids and adults alike. And they can be made with any number of vegetables, including eggplants! These can be baked in the oven or cooked on the stove top, like here and here. I chose to cook on the stove top, not missing an opportunity to not crank up the huge oven whenever I can.

This recipe for Zucchini Kookoo / zucchini kuku comes from Turmeric and Saffron and My Persian Kitchen but instead of using their wheat flour or baking soda, I used pancake mix. For the kids, I also added a good amount of shredded cheddar that I had lying about in the fridge. I also made them individual kookoos by using a one quart nonstick pan instead of a skillet and poured half of the mixture below for each. A simple recipe with few ingredients resulting in a great dish AND being able to sneak in some veggies too - I love!

Kookoo Kadoo

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 medium sized zucchini, grated and water squeezed out
1 small onion, chopped
2 heaped tsp biscuit/pancake mix (or wheat flour or 1/2 tsp baking soda)
1 tbsp shredded cheddar (optional)
a few dashes of turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp cooking oil

Method:


In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and the biscuit mix until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, except oil and mix well.
Grease and warm up a skillet. Pour oil at the center and pour the whisked egg mixture on top of that. Spread around until it covers the pan/skillet.
Cover and cook on low for 10-12 minutes, until the bottom is slightly browned and the top is set.
Flip the frittata and cook for another 5-6 minutes, until brown on the other side.
Cut them up into wedges and serve.