Reshteh Polo – Rice layered with noodles, raisins and dates

رشته پلو

Reshteh Polo: another signature Persian dish that blends familiar ingredients and brings them together in an unpredictable and distinctive way!

This rice dish has it all! Dates and raisins; onions and toasted noodles; saffron and rose water; cinnamon and turmeric. Finished off with a crispy bread Tahdig, and served with slow cooked lamb shanks in a rich broth to bring it all together! Though this dish can be consumed year-round, it is most often associated with Persian New Year celebration.

Count them . . . one, two, three . . . there are 3 carbs in this dish: rice, noodles and bread! Who says you can’t have it all? Serving multiple carbs has never been seen as a crime in Persian cuisine. No carb shaming where I come from!

A word on toasting

We all love what toasting does to food. Toasting brings out the flavor by exposing it to direct high and intense heat. Think of toasted bread or toasted nuts and seeds that become more aromatic, flavorful and crunchy as a result.

But whoever thought of toasting noodles? Leave it to Iranians to take an Asian/European ingredient and further adapt it to suit our palate and traditions.

Given the popularity of toasted noodles in Iran, you can actually purchase them, pre-toasted, from the market. Here in the US, I purchase linguine as they best match Iranian Reshteh (noodles in Farsi) in size and appearance, and toast them under the broiler.

Word of caution: anything under the broiler requires your full attention, and these noodles are no different. All it takes is about a minute to get the noodles delightfully blistered, aromatic, and golden in color.

Abundance!

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Reshteh Polo

Rice layered with noodles, dates and raisins
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course, Rice
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: dates, lamb, noodles, raisin, rice, saffron
Servings: 4
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef

Ingredients

Lamb

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, 1 inch slices
  • 1 celery, 1 inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 2 1/2 pounds lamb shanks
  • 10 sprigs parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 cups hot water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground

Filling

  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, butter or ghee
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted and sliced in 1/2
  • 1 tablespoon rose water, optional

Noodles

  • 1/2 cup Persian noodles (Reshteh), or Linguini. Approx 150 g

Rice

  • 10 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt, for parboiling the rice and will be rinsed out
  • 2 cups basmati rice, soaked for one hour and rinsed
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, ghee or butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 5 tablespoons hot water

Instructions

Lamb

  • In a large pot saute the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil for about 10 minutes.
  • Add turmeric, stir and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add the lamb shanks and toss around to mix well with the vegetables and saute for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients with the exception of the salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, coer and cook for 90 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 30-60 minutes or until the lamb shank is completely cooked and fork tender.
  • Remove the lamb shank and some broth and set aside.
  • Strain and discard the vegetables and save the broth for future use in other dishes.

Filling

  • In a large frying pan, saute the onions with olive oil for about 20 minutes over medium heat until they have turned a golden color.
  • Add the cinnamon, turmeric and salt and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and toss around to bring all the flavors together.
  • Set aside.

Noodles

  • Place the noodles single layered on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for 30-60 seconds.
  • The noodles should be blistered and turned golden in color.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, break each piece into 3 and set aside.

Rice

  • In a large covered pot, bring 8 cups water and salt to a boil.
  • Add the rinsed rice and toasted noodles and boil on high heat uncovered for about 5-8 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened. Drain the rice and noodles in a colander, rinse and set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons oil in a non-stick pot over low heat.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the lightly cooked rice-noodle mixture with 2 tablespoons of saffron-water mixture, gently mix and spread evenly in the bottom of the pot. This will be the crispy rice referred to as Tahdig.
  • * Alternatively, you can place a piece of lavash flat bread on the bottom of the pot for a bread Tahdig.
  • Begin by layering a 1/3 of the partially cooked rice-noodle mixture and a 1/3 of onion mixture into the pot and repeat until all of the rice and onion mixture have been layered in the pot.
  • 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.

Serving

  • Remove about a cup of rice-noodle mixture from the pan and mix with the remainder of 3 tablespoons of saffron water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Remove the remainder of the rice from the pot and place on a large serving platter. Decoratively arrange the saffron rice mixture on top.
  • Remove the Tahdig from the pan and also place decoratively on the serving platter.
  • Place the lamb shank on a seperate platter with some of the cooking liquid. Alternatively, you can also place the lamb shanks on the large serving platter with the rice.
  • Serve with a side of fresh herbs and yogurt.

Notes

In addition to lamb shanks, you can also prepare this dish with roasted chicken or stewed beef or Persian petite meatballs (Ghel Gheli). 
As always, sunny side up eggs with a touch of salt, pepper and sprinkle of turmeric can also accompany the rice to make it vegetarian friendly. 
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