Prep time: 35 min.
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
3 cups long-grain white basmati
I cup vegetable oil, butter, or ghee*
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken or meat (lamb, veal, beef) cut in
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons Persian spice mix (advieh)*
1 teaspoon ground saffron threads,* dissolved in 4 tablespoons hot water
1 1/2 cups green lentils
1 cup raisins
2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup slivered orange peel, bitterness removed*
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Rice With Lentils & Dates
- 1. Pick over and wash the rice per the master recipe on page 89.
- In a medium pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add
half the sliced onion and stir-fry for 5 minutes, until translucent.
Add the garlic and meat and stir-fry for 10 minutes longer. Add
1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
advieh and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer
for 25 minutes over low heat. Add a few drops of saffron water and
- Meanwhile, cook the lentils in 3 cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon
salt for 10 minutes. Drain the lentils, reserving the water for
later use, and set aside.
- In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add
the remaining onion and fry for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally,
until golden brown. Add the raisins, dates, and slivered orange
peel, and stir-fry 2 minutes longer; set aside.
- In a large nonstick pot, bring 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons
salt to a boil. Add the rice to the pot and boil briskly for 6 to
10 minutes, gently stirring twice with a wooden spoon to loosen
any grains that stick to the bottom. Once the rice rises to the
top of the pot, it is done.
- Drain the rice in a large, fine-mesh strainer and rinse with 3
cups lukewarm water.
- In a bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons oil, 1/2 cup water, 2
spatulas full of rice, the yogurt, and 1 tablespoon saffron water,
and spread the mixture over the bottom of the pot. This will form
the golden crust, or tah dig.
- Place 2 spatulas full of rice in the pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon
advieh. Add a spatula full of the lentil mixture and then a spatula
full of the meat. Repeat, alternating layers of rice with lentils
and meat, mounding the ingredients in the shape of a pyramid. Sprinkle
the remaining advieh on top.
- Cover the pot and cook the rice mixture for 10 minutes over medium
- Mix 1/4 cup cold water with 4 tablespoons oil and pour over rice.
Sprinkle on the remaining saffron water. Place a clean dishtowel
or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot to absorb condensation and
cover firmly with the lid to prevent steam from escaping. Reduce
the heat to low and cook 50 minutes longer, taking care that the
towel does not burn.
- Remove the pot from the heat and cool it, still covered, on a
damp surface for 5 minutes to loosen the crust.
- Remove the lid, hold the serving platter tightly over the pot,
and invert the two together, unmolding the entire mound onto the
platter. The rice will emerge as a golden-crusted cake, to be garnished
with edible flowers and herbs, then served in wedges. Alternately,
you may lift out the rice mixture, taking care not to disturb the
tah dig, and heap it onto a serving platter, as shown here. Serve
the tah dig separately on the side.
Recipe from Najmieh Batmanglij's A
Taste of Persia, page 96