Zireh Polo – Cumin Turmeric Rice Pilaf layered with Chickpeas and Potatoes

زیره پلو

Today I found myself wanting to stay close to home and do all kinds of domestic things. After the chores had been knocked off one by one, I was still longing to do something comforting and truly homey.

Naturally, I ended up in the kitchen, and I started to explore some less well-known Persian recipes. I found myself changing them around just a little to suit my craving for comfort food.

The result of this pursuit was this rice pilaf, based on a dish that originated in the Kerman province of Iran, on the eastern side of the country. The recipe I came across doesn’t have any meat or beans in it; as it is traditional with Persian dishes, the protein is often cooked separately and served alongside the dish. Alternatively, I can totally see this dish accompanied by a couple of sunny side up eggs, with turmeric sprinkled on top, of course!

I opted to make this dish vegetarian by using chickpeas, but I would venture out and say you could also use lamb, beef, chicken, or prawns for the protein. Enjoy exploring while blending cultures and flavors!

Exploration!

Zireh Polo

Cumin turmeric rice pilaf layered with chickpeas, potatoes and caramelized onions with bread tahdig
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: chickpeas, rice, vegan
Servings: 4
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef

Ingredients

Potato and Chickpeas

  • 4 tablespoons ghee or butter,
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons cumin, seeds
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric ground
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, ground

Rice

  • 8 1/4 cups water
  • 2 cups basmati rice, soaked for one hour and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice and will be rinsed out
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 bread, tortilla or lavash

Instructions

Potato and Chickpeas

  • In a medium sized frying pan, add 4 tablespoons of ghee and saute the onion over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  • Once the potatoes have partially cooked and have become slightly golden, add chickpeas, spices, salt and pepper and saute for 2 additional minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Rice

  • Bring 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil.
  • Add the rinsed rice and boil on high heat uncovered for about 6-8 minutes. The rice should still have some texture and density to it.
  • Drain the rice in a large colander and set aside while you prepare the pan.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of ghee in a nonstick pot and place the thin flat bread on the bottom. This will be the crispy bread tahdig!
  • Begin by layering a 1/3 of the partially cooked rice and a 1/3 of the potato-chickpeas mixture into the pot and repeat until all of the rice and the potatoes-chickpeas have been layered in the pot. Gently mix the rice mixture to create a uniform mixture.
  • Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter evenly over the top of the rice and pour in a 1/4 cup of water over the rice.
  • Wrap the lid with a clean towel and place on top of the pot. Allow the rice to steam over a medium-low to medium heat for about 45 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Select a large tray or platter to place on top of the pan and carefully and swiftley invert the rice onto the platter.
  • Serve the rice with a side of yogurt or Torshi, Persian pickled eggplants.

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