This is one of my favourite Persian rice recipes, generously flecked with herbs and the perfect accompaniment to pretty much any kind of meat or fish. Traditionally this recipe is the classic dish served for Persian new year (which was last week, remember?) and it is usually paired with smoked fish, in particular smoked cod... but I love to use smoked mackerel fillets instead.
But forget Persian new year, this is such a versatile rice that I have also served it with grilled chicken, as well as my Come Dine With Me Lamb recipe and most recently a lovely whole baked seabass. My colleaugues at work (you know who you are) ate the batch I brought in for them, cold. They assured me it was delicious, although I'm less confident! So without further ado, here is the recipe for this simple rice dish with the added bonus of 'tahdig' a traditional Persian rice crust that all the family usually fight over;
Persian Herb Rice (Sabzi Polow)
500g of Basmatice rice (don't substitute with ANY other kind of rice please!)
1 large bunch of fresh coriander (or 2 small)
1 large bunch of fresh parsley (or 2 small)
2 small packs of fresh chives
2 small packs of fresh dill
1 bunch of spring onions
Butter (about 150g, divided into 4 knobs)
Maldon Sea Salt
In a large bowl, wash/rinse your rice under cold water and empty out the cold water before washing/rinsing your rice with more water. Repeat this process several times until the water runs clear. Then cover the rice with water and add a generous fistful of crumbled Maldon sea salt to the water and allow to soak for 2-3 hours. If you don't have time, even 30 minutes soaking helps.
If you have a food processor then life is a whole lot easier because you can add all your herbs (in two halves) to the processor and blitz them til finely chopped. I would give them a little chop first to make it easier for the processor to break them down. Then chop your spring onions into 4 or 5 pieces and blitz them in the processor too until finely sliced. If you don't have a processor (which I didn't have until last year) then chop it all by hand, don't worry about them being too finely chopped but do make an effort to chop them as best as you can. Once done, add the herbs to the spring onions and set aside.
In a preheated cooking pot over a medium-high heat (or medium if using gas) fill the pan with boiling kettle water (you may need 2 kettle's worth of water), drain your basmati rice and add it to the pan along with another generous fistful of crumbled Maldon sea salt and finally all your chopped herbs and spring onions. Stir all ingredient well and allow to boil for about 6-8 minutes until the rice is par boiled. You will see this when the grain turns from the normal white-ish opaque to a more brilliant white, although it will not have become fluffy yet. Then drain the rice and herbs into a colander and set aside (do not rinse!) Then return your cooking pot to the hob and pour in 3 tablespoon of cooking oil with a couple of generous knobs of butter and add a tablespoon of crushed Maldon sea salt and then scatter the rice into the pan (scatter, dont pack it because you want the lightness of the falling rice to allow for steam to rise up) and then add remaining 2 knobs of butter and wrap a tea towel around a suitable lid for the cooking pot and cover and cook for 8 minutes on the same medium-high temperature, before reducing the heat right down to low-medium (Mine goes on electric mark 3 of 9)and cooking for a further 25-30 minutes. Once done, you can either place a large serving dish over the pan and flip the rice on to the dish OR decant all the rice out of the pan and then scrape the crispy Persian rice 'tahdig' out of the bottom and serve on top of the rice. However you do it, enjoy it!