Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Persian Herbed Rice and Chicken (Sabzi Polo Morgh)

I have really enjoyed learning a new way to cook rice. The intelligent lady over at Persian-Recipes.com has really enlightened my rice tactics in a most methodical and delicious way. I urge you to check out her primer on making perfect Persian style basmati rice.

Using her rice technique I created my own Persian classic (or maybe more a hybrid of two classic Persian recipes); Sabzi Rice with Chicken. Sabzi means herbs and they are plentiful and front stage in this recipe.

Sabzi Polo Morgh
 2 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 tsp saffron threads - placed in 1 tbsp hot water
1 onion, diced finely
~ 1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 cups white basmati rice (preferably Iranian or Pakistani works well too)
     - wash the rice in lukewarm water and drain, repeat 3 times at least
     - soak rice in lukewarm salted water for at least 2 hours (preferably longer)
1 cup each of chopped fresh Dill, Parsley, and Cilantro 
1/4 tsp turmeric

Berry/Nut Topping 
2 tbsp barberries or sultanas or red currants - soaked in warm water for 15 mins then drained
2 tbsp flaked/slivered almonds
3 tbsp pine nuts (I like alot of pine nuts, you can use less or use more almonds instead)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp olive oil

Begin by cooking the chicken: Heat a non stick pan big enough to hold chicken and onion with a bit of space left over on a medium high heat. Add about 1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil to pan then add onion once oil is hot. Fry onions until golden brown and soft then add in chicken pieces. Fry chicken until no longer raw looking (no pink) and then add the saffron and it's soaking liquid and some salt and pepper. Add enough water just to cover chicken (bit less than a cup) and then cover pan. Turn heat to low-medium and simmer chicken for about an hour so that pieces are nice and tender and well permeated with saffron flavor. Dont strain chicken yet.

Heat a large pot half filled of water to a rolling boil. Add a touch of salt. Drain soaking rice (reserve just a spoonful of soaking liquid) and add to the pot. Let boil for about 2 mins and then add all of the chopped herbs. Boil another 3 mins and then strain out rice and herbs.

Add 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2/3 cup of water to the just drained pot and allow to heat through. Now add in the turmeric, stir to incorporate, then add in the rice and herbs (stir the turmeric color into the rice just a bit), and about 1/3 cup of the chicken liquid to the pot. Place a towel over the pot and then cover with lid. Allow rice to cook over medium heat for about 40 mins - 1 hour. The longer you let it cook at this point, the more of a crust will develop on the bottom of the pan. This crust is considered a delicacy in Iran and it is definately something we want to happen.

While the rice is cooking, set a non stick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tsp olive oil. Once the oil is hot add all the other berry/nut topping ingredients to pan and stir fry until nuts are just golden.

Now we drain the chicken out, pull out the rice and combine on a plate. Top with the almond, currant and pine nut mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat.

Serve with a simple tomato onion parseley and cucumber salad and some yogurt.

Piece Zone return

Asparagus (english local), Buffalo Mozzarella, and Pecorino 

(Michelle is slowly becoming a dough master)