There are many kinds of mixed rices as there are many kinds of stews in Persian cuisine. At festivities, if roasts, especially lamb is served, the rice that accompanies is baghali polo.
When fava beans (also called broad beans) were not available, except for a small box, maybe one day in the summer, at the local grocery store, there wasn’t even enough quantity to make an adequate baghali polo. Until one day (27 years ago) as I was driving to work, with farm land on one side of the road, I saw a sign, “Fava beans $6 per crate”!!! The farm was owned by a Portuguese-American farmer, who farmed fava beans for Portuguese dishes he made and sold all the extras. Every year, I bought all his crates for sale and gifted them to my Persian friends. We all became experts at podding, shelling and freezing fava beans! (Fast podding/shelling method: Cut the fava bean-pod right through middle of the flat side, take out the sliced beans and squeezing the two sides of the inner shell, pop the beans out.) After a few years, shelled, frozen whole fava beans were available at the Chinese grocery stores, and now, also at Persian markets. Hallelujah!!!
Fava beans go very well with dill weed. Baghali polo is one of the simplest mixed rices, and can be enjoyed with meat or on its own, as a vegetarian/vegan dish. It also goes very well with torshi.
Fava Bean Rice • Baghali Polo باقالی پلو
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 400 gr / 2 cups basmati rice
• 8 cloves garlic
• 400 gr / 14 oz frozen (or fresh) shelled fava beans – keep frozen until use
• 1½ ~ 2 cups chopped, fresh dill weed (or 4 ~ 6 Tbsp dried)
• vegetable oil
• smidgen ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water, set aside for at least 1 hour
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 boil the rice
◊ Have a fine meshed colander ready in your sink, one with legs, so that it doesn’t touch the sink bottom.
◊ Fill a 9 cup non-stick pot, with 6 cups of water, add the garlic cloves and 1 Tbsp salt and bring to a boil. Drain water from the soaked rice and add 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 (or a tad lower) and occasionally, gently stir the rice in a circular motion. After a couple of minutes, 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. At this point, add the frozen fava beans and gently stir. Once the rice starts boiling again, 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, it is ready. It is better for the rice to be just a tad under-cooked. Turn off the heat.
◊ Now, you must act quickly. Lift the pot and drain water standing on the top and about fifth of the rice. Put the pot back on a cool burner/trivet, add fresh dill weed (not if using dried dill) stir/mix gently and drain the rest of the rice immediately into the colander. Rice should not sit in the colander more than a minute (it will continue cooking and be sticky soft).
To steam the rice:
◊ Rinse the same pot, or use a non-stick, 20cm/8″ dia x 10cm/4″ deep pot and add 3 Tbsp oil. For plain tah-dig add ½ tsp of saffron water in the oil and rotate the pot (check out other types of tah-dig).
◊ Avoid putting any of the the garlic bits at the very bottom of the pot (it burns fast). Sprinkle boiled rice in the pot, spatula at a time, (and if using dried dill, sprinkle a little each time on the rice). Straighten the top of the rice and make several vent holes with chopsticks. Drizzle 3 Tbsp of oil all over the top. Cover the pot with two sheets of paper towel and tightly put the lid on. On medium-low heat, steam for 45 ~ 55 minutes, for well crusted tah-dig.
◊ Serving suggestions:
¹ Invert the rice right from the pot in a large serving platter.
² In a small bowl, dish out about 1 cup of the rice and set aside. Sprinkle the rest of the rice on the serving dish/platter keeping the tah-dig (crust at the bottom of the pot) intact. Add teaspoon of dissolved saffron on to the rice in the bowl set aside, mix and sprinkle over the dished out rice in the platter (as shown in the first photo). Loosen and dish out the tah-dig with wooden spatula and serve at the side of the rice or in a different dish.
³ This rice dish is popularly served with lamb-shank or leg of lamb roast. However, it is also common to serve with stewed beef or chicken. In the photo below it is served with stewed beef-shank, flavored with saffron.
~ Noushe jan! • نوش جان ~
Stewed Beef Shank
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 small onion, diced
• 900 g/ 2 lbs bone-in beef shank
• 1 bay-leaf
• 2 cups water
• smidgen ground saffron
• salt and ground black pepper to taste
• 1 Tbsp caramelized onion (optional)
◊ Add oil to a medium-sized saucepan and place it on high-heat. As soon as oil is hot, add cut onions and stirring constantly, sauté for 2 minutes. Add meat and sear both sides. Add water, bay-leaf and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 1.5~2 hours, until meat is softly done, meat segments ready to be separated. Remove and discard bones, loose membranes and sinews . There should be ½ cup of liquid left. Add saffron, salt, pepper and caramelized onion, stir briefly and cook for 1 minute more. Spread meat and its liquid all over dished out rice or serve in a separate dish.
~ نوش جان • Noushe jan! ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?