Buried Beneath Jewels: Aromatic Javaher Polow
Persia- | Mar 19 2012 | (01:03:24 - EDT)
Unless your pantry happens to resemble a Middle Eastern or South Asian market, you will probably need to do a little shopping to make this traditional Persian rice dish with the lovely name, javaher polow, or jeweled rice. But it is well worth it, and most good supermarkets can supply what you require.
You’ll need dried apricots and golden raisins or currants. If you cannot get dried barberries (imported from Iran), you will need dried cherries or goji berries or dried cranberries. But only a handful of each. You will also need some blanched almonds and pistachios, pinches of saffron and cardamom, and extra-fancy Basmati rice.
This dish is called jeweled rice because it is golden and glistening, laced with butter and spices and piled with those gem-colored fruits. In Iran, it is typically served at weddings or other celebrations. Great platters of it appear at banquets.
At my house, I find it is just the thing to accompany a fine roast chicken. I think of chicken as fancy. Instead of eating a cheap factory bird, I would rather splurge on a pedigreed well-bred organic chicken and eat it only occasionally, say, once a month. So for me, this fragrant special-occasion rice fills the bill nicely.
One goal in making this dish is to achieve the crisp buttery layer on the bottom of the pot. The technique is not difficult, but it takes a little practice to get it down precisely.
After the rice is rinsed well, it is parboiled for about five minutes and drained. The half-cooked rice is layered into a well-buttered pot along with the chopped dried fruits. Over a moderate flame, it is allowed to brown gently before being splashed with a small amount of saffron-infused water.
Then the lid goes on the pot and the heat is turned very low so the rice steams gently. With a little luck and experience, the crisp tah dig, or crust, is formed.
Trust your nose and do not worry. Even if you don’t get a perfect crust, your jeweled rice will still be delicious.
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