Good evening, everyone.
As many of you probably know, waiting for rice to cook when you’re really quite hungry is well, excruciating.
I often find myself standing over the pot, staring into its glass lid scrutinizing the dark, boiling water for evidence of absorption. This is, of course, a futile process. As I pace back to my computer, feigning preoccupation, I find myself getting up to check the progress (or lack thereof) of my rice almost as quickly as I sat down at my desk. Sigh. Note to self: start buying white rice; it cooks way faster. In what feels like 45 minutes, 3 have managed to pass. It is only when I find myself beginning to consider the virtues of eating very al dente rice that I even pry myself away from the stove.
And that was the beginning of my tahdig with lavash venture. This is my second tahdig attempt; the first was with potato slices. I was not enthusiastic about how tahdig #1 came out, and so I persisted in using lavash. Lavash, on its own, is fantastic. Better than tortillas, I’d argue. Although, maybe not. It’s all contextual, really.
And there it is, people. My first successful tahdig. The lavash became so damn crunchy, I cut into it like a pie.
So, how did this happen without totally burning to a crisp? Here’s what I did after cooking the rice:
In a medium saucepan, dump in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil along with 1 tablespoon of saffron water. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the olive oil and water as best as you possibly can. Cover the bottom with the lavash. You can do either one or two layers, I did one. Put the cooked rice on top of the lavash, cover and cook.
This can happen in a few ways. You can cook it over low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, or if you’re impatient (as I was), you can cook this over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. My advice to you: let some of the lavash come up the sides so you can take a fork and pull it back to check its level of doneness. This is probably cheating, probably a little unorthodox, but for your first time I’d say go for it. You need to be able to gauge how done it gets over time.
When it’s done, take a plate big enough to fit over the saucepan, and put it over the pan. Flip the pan so the tahdig is on the plate, and you’ve got something awesome.
Tomorrow night, I am going to a cooking demonstration with Judith Jones. For those of you who don’t know, Judith Jones was the editor of Julia Child’s most famous cook book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The subject of the demonstration is cooking for one, something I’ve grown quite fond of. I will, of course, take tons of pictures!
Good evening everyone.
I begin the new month with an experimentation, of sorts. I tried my hand at jujeh kebab and tahdig.
For those unfamiliar with Persian cuisine, jujeh kebab is essentially marinaded chicken, skewered and grilled. Unfortunately, I don’t have an actual grill. I do have a George Foreman grill, though! Yeah, it’s not the same at all. There’s no charred, smokey flavor. There’s no real grill marks. But, it is compact and efficient and I use it to grill my sandwiches almost every day.
Tahdig is actually less a food and more a product of cooking rice in a certain way. After cooking the rice, you let it sit in the pan for about an hour so it forms a delicious crust on the bottom. Usually basmati rice is used for this. I love crusty rice, particularly with paella. There are a few different types of tahdig, and I chose to make mine with potato slices.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any basmati or long grain, white rice around. So, I had to use brown rice. Either this negatively affected my dish, or perhaps I added too much olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Either way, the rice did not have as much of a crust as I had hoped for, and I had it on the stove for nearly an hour over low heat (to prevent burning). It was good, don’t get me wrong, I would have just preferred a thicker crust.
Jujeh kebab adapted from here
1 chicken thigh
1 cup greek yogurt (i recommend either fage or chobani. if you don’t have greek yogurt, take plain yogurt and place it in some cheesecloth. either hang this over a bowl or place it in a strainer that fits over a bowl. strain for 3 hours in the refrigerator, and you’ve got greek yogurt)
3 or so TBSP turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 a lime
1. in a bowl, combine the yogurt, turmeric, salt, pepper, and lime juice. combine well. it should be a nice yellow color. put the chicken in the bowl, toss to coat. either cover this with plastic wrap and put that in the refrigerator, or place this mix into a ziploc bag, squish it around, and then place it in the refrigerator. your call. let this marinade over night.
2. you can do any of the following: grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, grill it on your george foreman, bake it, or broil the chicken. i leave that to you. i did mine on the george foreman grill set to medium heat for about 10 minutes.
The chicken was very flavorful. I will never understand why people snub their noses at turmeric by calling it the poor man’s saffron. Saffron = yellow, but tasteless. It comes from a pretty flower, though. Anyway, the squeeze of lime really brightens the chicken quite a lot. It blends well with the tang of the yogurt. It’d be EVEN better on a real grill, but I digress.
Tahdig with Potato adapted from here
1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 gold potato, chopped into 1/4 inch rounds
1 TBSP saffron water (steep the saffron in hot water until the water is golden)
1. in a medium saucepan, add 2 TBSP olive oil. add the saffron water and some salt, stir to combine.
2. place the potato rounds on the bottom of the saucepan. lay the rice over this, and cook for about an hour on low heat. if you get impatient, crank it up to medium for the last 15-30 minutes or so.
The other bummer about brown rice is that you can’t really see the little bit of crust that did manage to take form. The rice was good, and the potatoes were nice and crunchy. Next time, I will definitely be using basmati rice and I am going to try and make the tahdig with bread instead of potatoes. I must conquer this.
Tomorrow? Braised oxtails!