How to Prepare Persian Rice in a Rice Cooker
Iranians take their rice very seriously!
It has to be long-grain, Basmati (Indian). If prepared correctly each grain of rice should separate with a fork when cooked versus sticking together. Rice, or polo as is the word in Farsi, is served anytime there is a meal on the table. In this post I’m keeping things very simple. Rice 101. If you are a rice expert that is awesome. I admit that my rice skills are a bit limited. I’m a pro at the rice cooker method and you can be too! Even my Bob knows how to get the rice going using a rice cooker. Today I am sharing this easy, fool-proof recipe for how to prepare Persian Rice in a Rice Cooker.
On a nutritional side note, our family has cut down on rice consumption significantly over the years. A fist of rice is one portion in Kurbo terms. To measure one portion of rice in Kurbo, ball your hand into a fist and get a visual of how much to put on your plate. This amount is a far cry from the mounding platefuls of the past. If you have experienced a Persian kabab restaurant you know how much Iranians like their rice. A heaping plateful of rice is served in front of each individual. The kabab and other parts of the meal take a back seat to the polo! Our strategy in Persian restaurants is to order our meals with “half rice, half salad”. This way we can adhere to the goal of having half our plate full of green light foods. Rice is a yellow light in Kurbo meaning, go ahead and eat it but do slow down on the portions.
Persian food traditionally prepared using more fat and oil than what I choose to serve to our family. A good, tasty rice made in a restaurant (or at grandma’s house!) is made with plenty of butter and/or oil. I modify recipes to suit our healthier lifestyle. One way to overcome the lack or oils is to add more spices. Saffron is the king of spices in Persian cooking! Saffron is aromatic and it is the spice that gives the rice a yellow-ish or orange-y tint. The best saffron comes from Iran which can be tricky to get ahold of. If you can’t get a Persian saffron from a middle eastern market, you can try substituting it with a Spanish version of saffron. It will still be good.
Here is an easy, fool-proof recipe for cooking Persian Basmatic rice in a rice cooker:
- 3 cups basmati rice
- 4 cups water
- 1½ teaspoons finely ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tablespoons hot water
- ¼ cup of canola oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Rinse the rice several times (4 or 5 rinses) until the water runs off clear
- Soak the water for a minimum of 2 hours in water
- Pour off the soaked water
- Put the rice in the rice cooker
- Add the 4 cups of fresh water
- Add oil, salt, and dissolved saffron
- Allow the water in the rice cooker to come to come to a boil (usually takes 10 to 15 minutes in most rice cookers)
- When the water is almost completely boiled off, drape a paper towel or cloth over the top of the rice cooker and place the lid tightly in place to keep the moisture in during steaming
- Cook on high for about 30 more minutes
There are many, many variations of rice dishes in Persian cuisine. If you are interested in delving into the world of Persian polo, I refer you once again to Azita’s beautifully put together blog, Tumeric and Saffron. Upon doing a search for ‘rice’ on her blog I found 10 pages of recipes!
In my previous post this week I promised to share how to make Baghali Polo, translated as “Rice with Fava beans”. To make the rice with fava beans version, you can follow the same recipe for how to make Persian Rice in a Slow Cooker I shared above. At the point that the water has mostly boiled off, 10 to 15 minutes after you have turned on your rice cooker, simply stir in double-peeled, frozen fava beans. Baghali Polo also calls for fresh or dried dill weed. The herbs are added this point as well. I like to cheat a little and make this dish with green peas instead of fava beans. Green peas are much easier to find in the market than fava beans and our girls like peas so it works. Nutritionally, adding either fava beans or green peas is a great way to boost the green lights in this otherwise, carb-heavy dish.
Recipe additions to make Green Pea Rice version –
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup frozen peas
That’s it! Hope you enjoyed this post. Share your experiences with rice in the comments. Thank you.
Peace and Hugs,