Carrot Rice • Havij Polo • هویج پلو
• 2 cups basmati rice
• 4 carrots
• 1 Tbsp caramelized onion
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• ½ tsp cinnamon -or- cumin (preference of your taste, either is optional)
• pinch (1/16 tsp) pepper
• smidgen (1/32 tsp) ground saffron diluted in 1 Tbsp hot water (optional)
• vegetable oil
• 1 large russet potato for tah-dig
To soak the rice:
• 2 cups basmati rice, 1 Tbsp salt
- Some imported rice brands may contain non-rice small particles which must be scrutinized and removed by hand before washing. Also, some brands may need to be washed with extra agitation until water is clear. Put the rice in a large enough bowl with plenty of water, rub the rice between two hands to scrape off any powdery substance. Drain in a fine-meshed colander, rinse the rice until clear water runs through.
- Put the washed rice in a bowl, add salt, cover with water level one inch above the rice and set aside for more than an hour (this can be done in advance and soak for 3+ hours, or overnight).
While soaking the rice, make the carrot mixture:
- Peel carrots. Cut them as instructed in the photos.
- Fill a medium-size pot half-way with water, add salt and on high heat, bring to boil (salt is to retain vibrant color of the vegetable).
- Add cut carrots and boil for 1~2 minutes or until semi-cooked. Drain the carrots and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking.
- In a medium size bowl, mix boiled carrots, cranberries, caramelized onion, cinnamon or cumin, 1/8 tsp salt pepper and saffron water. Set aside.
- For potato tah-dig: peel the potato, cut it at least 5/8 inch/15mm thick and soak in a bowl of tap-water and set aside.
To prepare the rice:
- Have a colander ready in your sink, one with fine-mesh or with very small holes, and with legs so that it wouldn’t touch the sink bottom.
- In a non-stick pot (12+ cups capacity) bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the boiling water. Keep your attention on the pot or else the foam from the boiling rice may overflow.
- As the rice starts to boil briskly, lower the heat to medium-high and occasionally, gently stir the rice in a circular motion. In a few minutes, when the rice starts bubbling up like a fountain, then it boils slower/thicker. Test/bite a grain to see its hardness. Do this repeatedly, as timing is very important. As soon as there is no more hardness in the center of the rice (don’t let it get soft), drain the rice in awaiting colander in the sink. It is better for the rice to be a tad under-cooked than over cooked. The rice should not sit in the colander more than a minute (it will continue cooking and will be sticky soft). From this point, you must act quickly!
- Rinse the non-stick pot used for boiling. Add 4 Tbsp oil. Drain the cut potato and layer in the bottom of the potato.
- With spatula sprinkle ¼ of the boiled rice over the layered potato. Add 1/3 of carrot mixture, repeat this 2 more times and finish it with rest of the boiled rice on the top. Pour 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil all over the top of the rice.
- Put two layers of paper towel over the pot and put on the lid tightly. Steam the rice on medium-low heat for 45 minutes (no more).
- Dish out the rice in a large serving dish. With a non-stick-pot-safe spatula, remove the potato tah-dig (let the oil drip well) and serve in a separate dish or on the side of the rice.
~ نوش جان • Noushe jan! ~
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