Many cultures serve a “green” rice pilaf – this is a Persian version. You can try substituting spinach for the parsley without altering the flavor substantially. Also try increasing the amount of herbs a bit – if you like your rice really “green”. The saffron is not essential – if you don’t have it on hand – though it adds a lovely flavor so characteristic of Persian cuisine. The dried lime can be found at any Persian or Middle Eastern grocery (try Rose International Market in Saratoga or Mountain View). You can substitute fresh lemon for the dried lime – cook the rice with 2 tsp lemon zest, and squeeze 2 Tbsp lemon juice on the rice just before serving. I use less water than is called for in the original dish to create a drier, less sticky grain.
From Lucid Food by Louisa Shafia
- 2 cups long-grain basmati rice
- 1 tsp saffron threads or powder
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 leeks, green and white parts, finely diced
- 1 tsp dried lime powder or 1 preserved lime
- 1 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup minced fresh dill
- 1 cup shelled, toasted pistachios
- Put the rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Toss the rice with your hands a few times to remove the starch, then drain. Repeat this process 5 times. Set aside.
- Pour 3 cups water into a small pot with a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, put the saffron in a small bowl with 2 Tbsp of water. Stir and set aside.
- Heat a large pot over med-high heat and add the oil. Add the leeks and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the rice, saffron water, lime powder or whole preserved lime and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Pour the boiling water over the rice, bring the rice to a boil, then decrease the heat, simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off, and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. If the whole lime was used, discard.
- Transfer the rice to a large bowl and fold in the parsley, cilantro, dill and most of the pistachios. Season with salt. To serve, pile the rice on a platter and scatter a few more nuts on the top.