Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reshte Polo - Sweet Persian Noodle Rice




















I love this recipe even though I usually only eat it once a year. Traditionally this is served for dinner at Persian New Year (the first day of spring). It is said that reshteh (the wheat noodles) will bring good luck for the year if you have it as your first meal. Many make Ashe Reshteh or this dish to make sure the reshte part of the Persian tradition is fulfilled. Hope you love it as much as my family does.

FUNDABBLER FACT

Persian New year is a month long celebration. Once March hits, my family begins cleaning (spring/new year cleaning). We start with chaharshambe soori (Wednesday Feast). It is a celebration of the last Wednesday of the year where we jump over tiny fires (an OLD Zoroastrian tradition that symbolises purification). The history is deep and beautiful, the modern reality for family is a huge picnic in the evening where you see people you haven't in over a year. We dance, we eat and we play.

INGREDIENTS

Basmati Rice - 2 cups
Reshte - one inch diameter of flat whole wheat pasta (broken into about 1 inch pieces totalling to 1.5 cups once broken)
Almond slithers - 1 heaping cup
Sultan Raisins - 3/4 cup
Dates - 1 cup chopped (about 13 seeded and quartered)
Onions - 2 medium 1 jumbo chopped 
Orange zest- about 1/2 cup freshly zested (Ideally organic)
Saffron - about .5 teaspoon finely ground
Canola oil - about .5 cup in all
salt to taste
Non - Stick pot (so the rice does not stick and you can make nice tahdig)
Orange zest - 1 orange, boil to get rid of bitterness

Takes about 1.5 - 2 hours to make
Serves 4-6 people


INSTRUCTIONS

OK this is a bit complicated but stick with me. The general idea is cut everything, fry everything,  boil and drain your rice then layer and let it gently cook. So here we go-

Wash your rice and let it soak in enough water to cover it mixed with LOTS of salt (like 1/4 a cup) Let it sit at least a couple hours. It can be over night if you want or all day. whatever works with your schedule. 




Zest your oranges coarsely (either with a julienne tool or by hand avoiding the white part of the rind)  and boil to get rid of the bitterness. Just about 1 min.



Break your noodles and brown them. Stay nearby because they burn real quickly.



Chop and brown your onions.


Seed and cut your dates into quarters. Then brown them. Set aside. Fry your raisins until they puff up. Set aside.


Mix your zest, onions, dates, raisins with your turmeric some salt and pepper, cinnamon, and half of your saffron.


Add the slivered almonds to a pan with some butter and the rest of your saffron and a 1/8 cup of water to dissolve the saffron and coat on the almonds. Set aside.


Bring half a pot of water to a boil. Add in your noodles and rice. once it comes to a boil again drain water.


Rinse your pot and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot and start layering with rice and noodles and your mix of sweets. 


Use a butter knife or the end of your fork/spoon and make holes in your rice. You will cut up some pieces of butter in the holes. (NOTE: this is the traditional way of doing it. Being a bit more conscious of our health, I don't always do this. Especially for this recipe there is already enough oil in it to make it yummy and not greasy) Pour about 1/4 a cup of water over your rice and close the lid.



Put your stove at medium low and let it cook for a good 30-40 min. At the end increase the heat to make some crispy tahdig. 



NOTE:
Checking that your rice is cooked: 1. you can open it and take a quick taste. but in Persian cuisine it is a big no no to open the lid before it is ready because you lose your steam if it is not done. so- the way my mother and grandparents do it is wet your finger and quickly dab it on the side of your pot. If it quickly sizzles and the water evaporates, it is ready, if not, let it sit still. I have no idea how it actually works, but have learned not to ask, just to do because it works!

 When your rice is ready, shake your rice lose of the pan and flip on a large plate OR serve then place your tahdig on top. 


Serve the almonds on top and place on your table to ENJOY!

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