Rice & Potato Tahdig

I have an overwhelming collection of tahdig recipes. I have always wanted to make this Persian rice dish!

The dish is named for the crispy layer of rice that forms at the bottom of the pot is known as tahdig, which means “bottom of the pot.” This version also has thinly sliced potatoes in the crispy layer. This was my first attempt, and although delicious, it was a little bit too crispy and dark on the top. :/ I modified the cooking times in the recipe below.

This recipe is from Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski. I used Yukon gold potatoes and seasoned the finished dish with sprinkled sumac.

Yield: Serves 8 as a side dish

  • 2 cups white Basmati rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 small Russet or 1-2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16-inch thick
  • 1 T coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 T dried cranberries, coarsely chopped, optional
  • sumac, for sprinkling, optional
  1. Place the rice in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cold water to cover by 1 inch; stir. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the saffron with 1 tablespoon of hot water; set aside.
  4. Place the rice in a large saucepan. Add 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the rice is slightly softened on the outside, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Drain the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold running water, then shake well to remove excess water. Set aside.
  6. Cut out a round of parchment paper to cover the bottom of a 10-inch wide or other wide heavy pot with a lid, such as a Dutch oven. (I used a 10-inch enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Line the pan with the parchment round.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pot and melt over medium-low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  8. Arrange the potatoes, overlapping, on the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoons salt to the bowl with the saffron water and gently stir to combine.
  10. Spoon the rice on top of the sliced potatoes (do not press or pack down). Using a fork, gently spread the rice in an even layer.
  11. Cook, uncovered, over medium or medium-low heat, until the mixture is fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. (I cooked it for 10 minutes over medium heat but would reduce the time to 7 minutes next time- possibly over medium-low heat.)
  12. Wrap a clean dishcloth or flour sack towel around the lid and tightly cover the pan, folding the cloth over the edges of the lid.
  13. Reduce the lowest possibly setting and cook, undisturbed, until the potatoes are crisp (you can peek by lifting up the mixture at an edge or two with a large serving spoon), 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours.
  14. Uncover and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  15. Remove the pan from the heat. Invert the dish onto a serving plate, then lift off and discard the parchment paper.
  16. Sprinkle with the parsley, cranberries, and sumac, as desired.

North African Bean Stew with Winter Squash

This is a healthy and hearty vegetarian stew. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. I loved that it was loaded with warm spices.

The recipe was adapted from Brooklyn’s Kos Kaffe via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used farro instead of barley, used canned beans, and increased the amount of garlic. I also reduced the amount water to achieve a thicker consistency. Nice.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Baharat Spice Blend:

  • 1 T sweet paprika
  • 1/2 T ground coriander
  • 1/2 T ground cumin
  • 1/2 T ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

For the Stew:

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts, diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated
  • 1 cup finely diced fennel, fronds reserved (1 medium or 1/2 large fennel bulb)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baharat spice blend
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley or farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  •  large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • 4 cups cooked beans or chickpeas (I used 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (1/2 large or 1 small squash)
  • 3/4 cup peeled and diced turnip (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • plain yogurt, for serving (I used Greek yogurt)
  • aleppo pepper or hot paprika, for serving
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Make the baharat spice blend. Set aside.
  2. Cut leeks in half, slice into half moons, and soak in a bowl of water. Drain and finely chop in a food processor.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and cook leeks until they begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  4. While the leeks cook, finely chop the cilantro stems, fennel and garlic in a food processor.
  5. Stir the cilantro stems into the pot, along with diced fennel and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in baharat, cinnamon and tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in broth, 1 cup water (water can be omitted for a thicker consistency), the barley/farro, and the salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stir in saffron, if using, and reduce heat to medium. (The original recipe uses 3 cups of water- increase for a more soup-like consistency, as desired.)
  8. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. (I simmered the stew for 20 minutes because I used par-cooked farro.)
  9. Stir in beans, squash, turnip and lentils; cook until barley/farro and vegetables are tender, about another 30 minutes.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Remove cinnamon stick.
  11. Ladle stew into bowls. (I served it over rice.)
  12. Spoon a dollop of yogurt on top and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with cilantro leaves, fennel fronds and Aleppo pepper or paprika, as desired.

Dirt Candy’s Zucchini & Pasta Noodles with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

I celebrated a milestone birthday earlier this summer. Part of my birthday celebration was inspired by this dish. 🙂

The James Beard-nominated chef and owner of Dirt Candy in NYC, Amanda Cohen, was featured on Sara Moulton’s PBS series. She prepared a cocktail along with this zucchini dish from her menu. Dirt Candy is a very unique vegetarian restaurant and I knew the only way I could get my entire family to dine there was for a birthday meal. We went for a birthday brunch celebration and then spent the day enjoying NYC.

Cohen explained that although she is not a vegetarian, she feels that a chef can be much more innovative when creating dishes without being limited by simply pairing sides with a protein. The brunch menu included a mushroom coffee cake on our visit. My son ate the whole thing! Our favorite dish was the Brussels sprout tacos, served with lettuce wraps and a platter of small bowls of topping choices. Delicious. We finished our meal with cucumber sorbet topped with a birthday candle. 🙂

The zucchini pasta recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I modified the proportions and the method. The saffron made the dish exceptional. I also made homemade Greek yogurt labneh to incorporate into the dish. The labneh recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit via epicurious.com, contributed by Tom Scherlitz.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

To Make Greek Yogurt Labneh: (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • cheesecloth
  1. Line a large sieve with cheesecloth; set over a medium deep bowl.
  2. Place yogurt in sieve. Gather edges of cheesecloth to cover yogurt. Place in refrigerator and let drain for 2-3 days. (I let it drain for 48 hours.
  3. Gently squeeze out any excess liquid; discard liquid in bowl (yogurt will be very thick and resemble soft goat cheese).

For the Zucchini Pasta Dish:

  • 2 to 3 medium zucchini or 4 cups baby zucchini (I used 2 1/2 medium zucchini)
  • 6 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • pinch of saffron
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups labneh, recipe above
  • 1 to 2 pounds zucchini spiral noodles
  • 8 to 12 oz angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chiffonade basil or mint
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup squash blossoms sliced thinly, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. If using medium zucchini, slice in half and then into 1/4″ half moons. If using the baby zucchini , cut into rounds.
  2. Toss the cut zucchini with 4 T of the olive oil.
  3. Grill over high heat until the zucchini has developed char marks, about 3-4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta water.
  5. In a pan over medium heat add the remaining 2 T of olive oil, saffron and the garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute, turn the heat to low and add the labneh and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water.
  6. Stir slowly, incorporating everything together.
  7. Toss the sauce with the zucchini noodles, the angel hair pasta, the herbs, the lemon juice, and the lemon zest.
  8. Adjust seasonings and then divide between 4 bowls.
  9. Sprinkle each bowl with the squash blossom ribbons, if using, as well as minced herbs, as desired.

Pressure Cooker Arroz con Pollo

Chicken and rice is an absolute favorite in my house. This chicken meat was incredibly tender- falling off the bone- in this pressure cooker version. The rice was full-flavored and fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from The Essential Mexican Instant Pot Cookbook: Authentic Flavors and Modern Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker bye Deborah Schneider. I used a stove top pressure cooker. I branched out from my comfort zone and used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. 😉 I also substituted a Cubanelle for an Anaheim chile and increased the garlic.

We ate it with a green salad. Wonderful!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (8 thighs) or 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tsp coarse salt, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small white or red onion, diced
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Cubanelle, Anaheim, or Poblano Chile, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cored and diced or one 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained (I used Basmati rice)
  • parsley or cilantro, minced, for garnish
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of the chicken broth to a bare simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the saffron threads to the hot broth and let steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Season the chicken pieces on all sides with 1 tsp of the salt, the black pepper, and the pepper flakes. (I used a 9×13-inch pyrex dish.)
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
  5. Working in batches, add the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate.
  6. Add onion, garlic, and diced chile to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
  7. Stir in the tomatoes, cumin, smoked paprika, bay leaf, and the remaining 2 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.
  8. Stir in the saffron-infused broth and the remaining 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  9. Stir in the rice and, using a wooden spoon, gently swirl the rice until it falls in an even layer.
  10. Return the chicken to the pot, arranging the pieces in an even layer, then pour in any accumulated juices.
  11. Secure the lid and seal under pressure, set to meat/stew on an Instant Pot. (I brought my pot up to high (2nd ring) but may reduce to the first ring next time because a lot of the rice was crispy- but delicious- on the bottom of the pot.)
  12. Cook for 20 minutes.
  13. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then move the pressure to venting to release any remaining steam.
  14. Open the pot and let cool for 10 minutes to allow the rice to firm up prior to serving.
  15. Serve garnished with minced herbs, as desired.

Chicken Biryani, Hyderbadi style

I have another wonderful Indian dish to share. I first spotted this mouth-watering dish on Safari of the Mind– the site of my like-minded blog friend, Loretta. I had to make it. 🙂

I doubled the amount of chicken in the original recipe -thinking it would be the highlight- but I was obsessed with the rice! I didn’t cut the chicken into pieces, but may opt to next time. I used 1 tablespoon of prepared Garam Masala powder but included the ingredients to prepare it below- I do think it would be even more delicious if it was prepared with the fresh spice blend. I also omitted the water in the marinade and the mint in the tempering. I baked the biryani rather than cooking it on the stove.

The recipe was adapted from Yummefy.com, via Loretta @Safari of the Mind. We ate it sautéed greens with garlic and cumin. Yum!

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Marinade:

  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (about 150 grams)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped (about 1 T)
  • 2-inch piece ginger root, very finely chopped (about 2 T)
  • 4 to 8 green chillies, fresh, chopped, de-seeded and minced, to taste (I used jalapeños)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, from 1 large lime
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp coarse salt, or to taste
  • 8 to 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 in pieces, if desired

For the Masala Powder:

  • 4 cloves
  • 1 piece cinnamon, 1 inch
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds

For the Rice:

  • 2 cups basmati rice, or any other long-grain rice
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 piece cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

For Tempering:

  • 4 tsp plus 1 T ghee, divided
  • 2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 3 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 cup warm milk for 30 minutes
  • 14 fresh mint leaves, for garnish, as desired
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds, blanched and toasted

Method

  1. Place yogurt in a large bowl and whisk, using a fork until smooth.  Add onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies to a bowl and combine with yogurt, turmeric, lime juice, coriander leaves and salt.
  2. Place masala powder ingredients in an electric grinder and process to a fine powder.  Add to yogurt mixture.
  3. Add chicken and massage with your hands for the marinade to coat and penetrate the chicken.  Marinate, covered for 2 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Wash rice at least 3 times until the water runs clear.  Soak rice in water to cover by at least 1 inch for 15 minutes.  Drain.
  5. Place a large pan on high heat and pour in 2 liters (8 cups) water. (I used a 4 quart pan.)  Bring to a boil and then add drained rice, stirring gently.  Toss in cloves, green cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaf and salt.  Stir to mix, then cover with a lid.  Simmer for 5 minutes on low heat or until half-cooked.  Drain the rice.  Set aside and allow to cool.
  6. Heat 4 teaspoons ghee and tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the sliced onions till caramelized and crisp.  Set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (200 degrees C)
  8. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil onto the bottom of a heavy saucepan and place the marinated chicken at the bottom, spreading it out in one layer. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  9. Spoon half the rice in a layer over the chicken.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons saffron milk, 1/2 tablespoon ghee, and 1/2 tablespoon coriander leaves over the layered rice.  Top with 1/2 the onions.
  10. Repeat one more layer with the remaining rice, saffron milk, ghee, coriander leaves, and onions.
  11. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and then with a fitted lid.
  12. Place biryani in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is 165 degrees.  Remove from the oven.  Let the biryani rest, covered for 10 minutes. (Because the chicken pieces were whole, I baked it for 45 minutes.)
  13. Remove lid and foil, and garnish with mint and/or cilantro leaves and slivered almonds, as desired.  Serve hot.

One Year Ago: Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

Three Years Ago: Jerk Chicken with Spicy Pineapple Sauce & West Indies Roti

Four Years Ago: Indian-Spiced Chicken Stew

Five Years Ago: Indian-Spiced Chicken & Spinach

Baked Ziti with Cauliflower

Adding vegetables to a baked pasta dish is a wonderful way to slim it down and make it a little bit healthier. My son enjoyed this version as much as our standard super cheesy baked ziti. Not only does this version incorporate cauliflower, it is also upgraded by adding flavor from saffron and anchovies.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. The dish was inspired by another Sicilian cauliflower dish in Clifford A. Wright’s “Cucinia Paradiso.” I modified the recipe by roasting the cauliflower, increasing the garlic and tomatoes, using whole wheat pasta, and incorporating mozzarella cheese. Great.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 medium cauliflower, about 2 pounds, leaves and stem trimmed, cut into florets
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 2-4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ¾ pound ziti or penne rigate (I used whole wheat penne)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. On a parchment paper lined, rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets with 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees, on convection.
  4. Place the saffron in a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons warm water. Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Combine the grated cheeses in a bowl.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until it smells fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute, and add the anchovies and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt (remembering that the anchovies will contribute a lot of salt) and freshly ground pepper.
  7. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the roasted cauliflower, saffron with its soaking water, and parsley, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add the pasta. Cook until just al dente, a few minutes less than you would cook it to serve. It will soften further when it bakes. (I cooked the whole wheat penne noodles for 5 minutes, 2 minutes shy of al dente.) Drain and transfer to a bowl.
  10. Oil a 3-quart baking dish. Toss the pasta with half the cauliflower mixture and half the cheese and spoon into the baking dish.
  11. Combine the remaining cauliflower mixture with half of the remaining cheese and spoon over the pasta.
  12. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top. Drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of oil.
  13. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve hot.

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Vegetarian Harira

This is a vegetarian version of Harira, a traditional, savory Moroccan soup. It is incredibly full-flavored- loaded with spices and legumes.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I added fresh lemon juice, used canned San Marzano tomatoes, dried garbanzo beans, and increased the amount of garlic. Tanis recommends serving the soup the day after it is prepared in order to allow the flavors to meld.

We ate it with warm naan and green salad. It was hearty, healthy, filling, and delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced, about 2 cups
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon crumbled saffron
  • 1 (3-inch) piece cinnamon stick or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups diced ripe tomato, fresh or canned (I used 2 28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, drained)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • coarse salt
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled dried fava beans or 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ¼ pound angel hair pasta or vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Put olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, ginger, pepper, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, saffron and cinnamon. Cook for about 2 minutes more.
  4. Add tomatoes, celery leaves and cilantro and bring to a brisk simmer.
  5. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until mixture thickens somewhat, then add 1 teaspoon salt, the brown lentils, red lentils and dried faves or soaked chickpeas.
  6. Add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, covered with the lid ajar.
  7. Let soup simmer for 30 minutes, then taste broth and adjust salt.
  8. Cook for 1 hour more at a gentle simmer, until the legumes are soft and creamy. It may be necessary to add more liquid from time to time to keep soup from being too porridge-like. It should be on the thick side, but with a pourable consistency. (With every addition of water, taste and adjust for salt.)
  9. Just before serving, add pasta and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Add fresh lemon juice.
  11. Ladle soup into small bowls and pass lemon wedges for squeezing, as desired.
Note: The soup may be made in advance and refrigerated. (This is recommended!) If it thickens, thin with water or broth when reheating, and adjust the salt.

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