Persian food is one of the oldest, most glorious cuisines in the world. Its influence can be found far and wide. There are so many different types of Persian rice dishes, from the complicated to the not so complicated, from the bejewelled to the “ordinary” like this one.
This recipe came about because some of my students asked for a quick and super easy Persian style rice recipe; without the customary tahdig, that golden crunchy bottom rice layer, the crowning glory of all Persian rice dishes!
In Persian cooking, to achieve fluffy and perfect rice, it is first parboiled in plenty of water, very much like cooking pasta, drained then steamed until done. The steaming here is not the traditional steaming method that we know, it’s just finishing the rice off on the stove with a tight fitting lid and a tea towel, creating a whole lot of steam in the pot.
Rice cooked this way is called chelow (chelo), which is just steamed white rice or polow (polo), which is when it’s mixed with other ingredients like meat, vegetables and fruit. Here on LinsFood, we have 2 other Persian rice recipes. The first one, is your basic Persian rice, complete with tahdig (click for recipe). Today’s recipe is a simplified version of that recipe.
The second one, Morasa Polow, is the King of all rice dishes; Persian Jewelled Rice, as its name suggest, twinkles and shines with ingredients like pistachios, carrots and zereshk (barberries), as in the picture below:
Today’s recipe, Easy Persian Rice, is exactly that. I employ the ingredients necessary to achieve the aroma of Persian rice, but the method is the standard absorption method of cooking rice, which means that it takes less than 30 minutes altogether to cook it. The downside of this is that you don’t have any accompanying tahdig, or crunchy layer. But you can’t always have everything!
Seriously though, it may be an easy recipe, but you are getting flavour and aroma with it, from the butter, saffron and rose water. I make it for my kids quite often, because they do love aromatic rice.
Ingredients for Easy Persian Rice
As many of us will not have access to Persian rice, Basmati is the perfect substitute.
This is how I use saffron in my kitchen, the Persian way. It is just a case of crushing some saffron and soaking it in hot water. You can read more about how to make it here and see a quick tutorial of it on my YouTube Channel here.
We use it as a final sprinkle, to impart a musky, rose scent to the rice. The scent of rose or orange blossom is one of the identifying features of Middle Eastern cooking. Rose water should be easily found in the baking section of wherever you shop. Failing that, a shop selling cake decorating and making supplies ought to stock it. You could substitute it with orange blossom water, if you like.
From the pictures here, you can see that I’ve garnished the rice, which is completely optional. You can go with just some rose petals or some flaked or slithered nuts like pistachios or almonds. The green of pistachio is always very effective, and you’ll find it a very popular topping in Middle Eastern cooking because of that. Zereshk, or barberries are also another good choice, as are pomegranate seeds, for their colour. You can read about barberries here.
How to serve our Easy Persian Rice?
Well, that’s an easy question! Any Middle Eastern, North African and Indian dishes that will go with rice can be served with our Easy Persian Rice. Here are some examples:
There you go, next time you fancy a quick rice recipe with a bit of character, you know where to find it!
- 600g (3 cups) Basmati rice
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 875 ml (31/2 cups) water
- 3 Tbsp liquid saffron
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp rose water
- Edible Dried Rose Petals
- Pine Nuts
- Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
- Heat the butter on medium heat and fry the rice for a minute, stirring and coating the rice with the butter.
- Add the water and increase the heat to high. Add the liquid saffron and salt and stir to mix.
- Cook on high heat until the water has evaporated and little steam vents (holes) appear on the surface of the rice.
- Put a close fitting lid on, lower the heat right down and cook for 14 minutes.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and leave the rice to rest for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the rose water all over and fluff the rice up with a fork and serve while hot. Garnish with the rose petals and nuts, if using.
- Category: Main Course
- Cuisine: Persian
- Serving Size: 6-8