Reshteh Polo / Noodle Rice
1 ½ cups basmati rice
1 Tbsp salt
4 oz roasted noodles, broken into 1 inch (2.5cm) length
~9 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion
1 cup golden raisins
12 pieces quality dates, cut in half (longitude) and de-pitted
3 Tbsp orange marmalade
smidgen ground saffron dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water (optional, but makes a difference)
For tah-dig: 1 piece flour tortilla bread (large enough to cover bottom of the pot) –or- see other options of tah-dig
To soak the rice:
- Wash rice in a bowl until the water is clear. (Or in a fine-meshed colander, rinse the rice thoroughly.)
Add 1 Tbsp 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).
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.
- In a deep, non-stick pot, add 3 Tbsp oil and set on medium-high heat. When oil begins to ripple, it is hot enough. Add onions. Stir often, fry until evenly golden crisp. 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 (9 cups capacity with lid) bring 5 cups of water to a boil.
- Drain water from soaked rice and add to 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 fountain, 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 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 undercooked than overcooked.
- 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 2 sheets of paper towel and tightly put lid on.
- On medium-low heat, steam for 45 minutes.
- Dish out rice, spatula at a time, 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! /Bon Appétit!