As a tradition, my Mother cooked Reshteh polo every year, on the last day of the Iranian calendar (March 19 or 20 of the Gregorian calendar, depending on the time of the equinox), eve of
Naw-Ruz, Iranian New Year’s Day. In Iranian/Persian culture, noodles are symbolic of new beginnings in life. In the old times, it was believed that noodles can bring good fortune and make new endeavors successful.
Noodle Rice • Reshteh Polo • رشته پلو
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 1 ½ cups basmati rice
• 113 gr/ 4 oz roasted noodles, broken into 3 cm/1 inch length
• vegetable oil
• 1 large onion (340 gr/12 oz) – or – 6 Tbsp caramelized onion
• 1 cup golden raisins
• 12 pieces quality dates, cut in half (longitude) and de-pitted
• 3 Tbsp orange marmalade
• smidgen of ground saffron dissolved in 3 Tbsp hot water
• 1 piece flour tortilla bread (large enough to cover bottom of the pot) –or- see other options of tah-dig
To soak the rice:
◊ Although today, clean fine rice is available, some imported rice brands may contain small, non-rice 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 and 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 1 Tbsp salt, cover with water level 3 cm/ 1″ above the rice, stir gently and set aside for more than an hour. This can be done in advance and soaked for 3+ hours. (Note: A faster step for cooking rice is… wash rice and soak without salt for 30 minutes. Add the salt to boiling water and follow the next steps.)
To prepare the dried fruit mixture:
◊ Cut onions in half, putting cut side on the board. Slice longitudinally (from the root end to stem end) as thinly as possible.
◊ Add 4 Tbsp oil to the saucepan and set on medium-high heat. When oil begins to ripple, add cut onion and stir. Lower heat to medium. Stir cut onion often, fry until evenly golden crisp caramelized. Spoon out and set aside.
◊ In same pot with remaining oil (on medium-high heat), add raisins and stir for a minute. Add dates and stir for another minute, turn off heat.
◊ Add orange marmalade, one-half of caramelized onion and dissolved saffron, mix and set aside.
To boil the rice and noodles:
◊ Have a colander ready in your sink (fine-mesh or with very small holes, hopefully, with legs and don’t touch the sink bottom).
◊ In a non-stick pot (10 cups capacity with lid) bring 7 cups of water to a boil and add 1 Tbsp salt.
◊ Pour the soaked rice with its brine in the boiling water. Also, add noodles. Pay attention to the pot or else foam from boiling rice may overflow (stir to avoid overflow).
◊ As rice starts to boil briskly, lower heat to medium-high and occasionally, gently stir the rice in a circular motion. At this point, taste the boiling water (carefully) to insure the salt content is to your taste. Add salt if needed. In a few minutes, after rice begins bubbling like a volcanic eruption, it boils slower/thicker.
◊ Test/bite a grain to check its hardness. Do this repeatedly, as timing is very important. As soon as there is no more hardness/crunch in the center of the rice (don’t let it get completely soft), drain rice in colander waiting in sink. It is better for rice to be a tad under-cooked than overcooked. Rice needs to be tad saltier than you like. If it is too salty, pour a little warm water over the rice while in the colander.
◊ Rice should not sit in the colander more than a minute (it will continue cooking and be sticky soft).
◊ At this point, you must act quickly. Rinse pot and have it ready for preparing rice.
To prepare the rice:
◊ Put 3 Tbsp oil in pot. Lay tortilla bread in bottom of pot (or tah-dig of choice).
◊ Gently, a spatula at a time, sprinkle ¼ of drained rice/noodle in pot.
◊ Layer 1/3 of raisin mixture evenly over rice/noodle layer (away from touching sides of pot) and cover/layer with ¼ of rice/noodle. Repeat this two more times.
◊ Poke a few holes into the rice. Pour 2~3 Tbsp of oil evenly over rice in the pot. Cover pot with 1 sheet of paper towel and tightly put lid on. On medium-low heat, steam for 45 minutes.
◊ Dish out rice, spatula at a time, sprinkling into a serving dish (keeping tah-dig intact at bottom of pot).
◊ Sprinkle and garnish the other-half of the caramelized onion on top of the dished out rice.
◊ Loosen, dish out tah-dig with wooden or non-stick pot-safe spatula and serve in same dish or a different dish.
~ Noushe jan • نوش جان ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?