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Today I am posting the third recipe for the Food of Life series. I hope you all enjoyed the last two recipes as much as I did! Today’s recipe was featured on Martha Stewart Show this past March. It was very exciting to see Mrs. Najmieh Batmanglij featured on Martha’s show, who is no stranger to Persian Cuisine.

In fact, Martha has featured Persian recipes in one of her cookbooks as well as in Martha Stewart Living Magazine.

Anyway, I was immediately intrigued by this recipes because not only do I love Baghali Polow, as you may have noticed by this post here and the other here, but because of the addition of saffron dissolved in rose water that is added to the rice.

Meat
6 lamb shanks
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2  teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons oil
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 4 tablespoons rose water
2 teaspoons advieh (Persian spice mix)
1 cup water

Rice
3 cups long-grain basmati rice
2 pounds fresh or 1 pound frozen fava beans, shelled
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup oil, butter, or ghee
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoons ground saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup rose water
6 cups fresh dill weed, washed and finely chopped
6 baby green garlic, trimmed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

To cook the lamb shanks: Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Wash lamb shanks, pat dry, and dust with a mixture of salt, pepper, turmeric, and flour.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof baking dish to fit 6 lamb shanks. Sauté the shanks on all sides until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same baking dish, add 3 tablespoons oil and sauté the onions and garlic. Add the honey, orange zest, lime juice, saffron-rose water, and advieh, and stir-fry for 20 seconds.

Return the lamb shanks back to the pan, add 1 cup water, cover tightly with a layer of parchment paper and aluminum foil on top, and bake in the preheated oven for about 3 hours or until the lamb is tender. Remove from heat and keep warm.

To cook the rice: Clean and wash 3 cups basmati rice 5 times in warm water.  Shell beans and remove outer layer of skin. If using frozen fava beans, soak in warm water for a few minutes, then remove the second skin.
Bring 10 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large, non-stick pot. Pour the washed and drained rice into the pot. Add the fava beans and turmeric to the pot while water is boiling (turmeric helps to keep the green color).  Boil briskly for 6 to 10 minutes, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to loosen any stuck grains. Bite a few grains. If rice feels soft and all of it has risen to the surface, it is ready to be drained. Remove from heat and drain in a large, fine-mesh colander; rinse with 2 or 3 cups water.

To form a tender golden crust (tah-dig): In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup oil, the milk, a few drops of saffron-rose water, and 3 spatulas of rice, and spread the mixture over the bottom of the pot. Taking a spatula full of rice and beans, begin to form a pyramid by alternating layers of rice with dill weed, the garlic, and cinnamon. Repeat these layers.

Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

Mix the remaining oil and 1/2 cup warm water and pour over the rice. Pour the remaining saffron-rose water over the top. Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook another 70 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a damp surface without uncovering. Remove lid and take out 2 tablespoons of the saffron-flavored rice and set aside for garnish. Gently taking 1 spatula of rice at a time, mound the rice in the shape of a pyramid. Arrange the lamb around the rice and garnish with saffron-flavored rice. Detach the crust from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula. Unmold onto a small platter. Serve this rice with yogurt or torshi (pickle) or sometimes khoresh-eqeymeh (potato khoresh).

See other Food of Life series recipes:

Rice with Shrimp and Fresh Herbs Persian Gulf-Style

Saffron Almond Brittle 

Recipes from Food of Life, Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij, courtesy of Mage Publishers, www.mage.com

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