Persian Style Rice with Golden Crust
Happy 2018! I’m very much looking forward to starting a new year. I have a good feeling about this year and wanted my first post to reflect this, but I wasn’t sure what to make. Then, a very special friend of mine asked me how I prepared my Persian rice with the golden crust and that was it. I knew what my first post would be. It’s the perfect recipe to kick off the year — simple, delicious, and an integral part of almost every Middle Eastern meal.
This is my go-to rice recipe, which I learned from my mother who in turn learned it from my Persian grandmother. The rice is steamed slowly so that it forms a beautiful golden crispy crust, holding all the wonderful fluffy rice inside. The process is a piece of cake. Please take the time to read my notes at the end with special tips to make it perfect.
You measure the rice, wash it, and let it soak.
Then you boil and steam it in water with salt and oil,
until little holes form and the water is all soaked up.
Then you form it into a cone shape and steam.
That’s it! Forty-five minutes later, you have gorgeous rice encrusted in a golden crispy layer. My kids say it tastes like popcorn. I think it’s even more delicious. This rice can be served with any Middle Eastern or Indian stew or curry. Just perfect.
- 2 mugs/cups Basmati rice (see notes regarding measurement)
- 2 mugs/cups water
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp salt (or a little less, to taste)
Measure out the rice into a medium size bowl and rinse 2-3 times in lukewarm water to shed some of the starch. Basically, cover the rice in water and use your hand to gently massage the rice for a few seconds, pour off the water, and repeat. This only takes a minute and will help the rice not to stick together during cooking. After 2-3 rinses, add enough lukewarm water to the rice to cover and set aside to soak for at least 30 minutes.
Using the same cup/mug that you used to measure the rice, measure an equal amount of water and pour into a large non-stick saucepan. Add the salt and vegetable oil and bring the water to a boil.
- Drain the rice and pour into the pot of boiling water. Give the rice one quick stir. Cover loosely, allowing some steam to escape. If you need, tilt the lid slightly.
- Boil the rice until all the water is soaked up, about 5 minutes. You will see little holes appear in the rice. That is when you know it’s ready.
- Reduce the heat to as low as possible. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice gently once and move it away from the sides, forming a cone shape. This allows the rice to steam perfectly. Cover once again and cook for about 45 minutes.
- When ready, turn the heat off. Place a large flat plate over the pot and flip the rice out upside-down. You should have a lovely golden crust covering the soft fluffy white rice. Yum.
The “cup” is an American standard of measurement. In my experience in the Middle East, each household has a mug or cup that is used to measure the rice and that is the standard for that household. In my mother’s kitchen, it was a particular red plastic cup. In my house, it’s the mug pictured above. The measurement is general and as long as it’s about 1 cup-ful or 1 mug-ful, it’s fine.
Please remember to use a non-stick pot to cook the rice or it will not come out properly.
Regarding the formation of the crust, when I reduce the heat at the end so that the crust can form, I put my gas stove on the lowest possible flame and it takes about 45 minutes. However, you might have to experiment with this, depending on the size of your stove, whether it’s gas or electric, etc. Times might vary. If you flip the rice out of the pot and it’s undercooked and not very golden, just flip it back into the pot for another 10 minutes!
And finally, you cannot let this rice sit in the pot once the heat is turned off. The crust will turn soft. You must flip it out of the pot when it’s ready.
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