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In early March Mage Publishers sent over the newly published Food of Life, Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies cookbook by Mrs. Najmieh Batmanglij. I excitedly looked through the book and salivated over the updated recipes from previous editions and the newly added ones. Then I got busy getting ready for all the post related to Norouz and our upcoming yearly Norouz Party followed by life events in general.  Once things settled down I decided that I wanted to feature a few of the recipes here on MPK. So today is the first post of 4 coming your way which will include 3 recipes and an interview with Mrs. Batmanglij.

So let’s begin with the very first post which is a rice that I first had when the Sous Chef made it from New Food of Life version published in 2001, which is the one I own. I found it to be delicious and once I saw the updated version in the new edition I just had to try it right away.

Ingredients

Rice
3 cups basmati rice
8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 cups freshly chopped cilantro
1 cup fresh chopped dill
2 cups fresh chopped spring onions
1 tablespoons dried fenugreek or, 1/2 cup fresh chopped fenugreek
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons hot curry powder
1 tablespoon angelica powder (gol-par)
1 cup oil, melted butter, or ghee*
1/2 teaspoon saffron, dissolved in
2 tablespoons hot water

Shrimp
2 tablespoons oil
1 pound raw shrimp, butterflied, or 1 pound white fish fillets, 4-inch lengths
1 teaspoon lime powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro

 

Pick over and wash the rice 5 times in warm water and drain. In a large, non-stick pot, bring 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Pour the washed and drained rice into the pot. 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.

In a mixing bowl, toss together the garlic, all the herbs, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, curry, and angelica powder. Set aside.

To form a tender golden crust (tah-dig): In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup water, a few drops of saffron water, and 2 spatulas of rice. Spread this mixture over the bottom of the pot.

Then mound alternating layers of rice and the herb and spice mixture to form a pyramid.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
Mix the rest of the oil with 1/2 cup water and pour over the rice. Pour the saffron water on top. Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook another 50 minutes over low heat.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a damp surface without uncovering it.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide skillet until very hot. Dust the shrimp with the mixture of lime powder, curry powder, salt, and cilantro. Sear the shrimp for a 1 minute on each side or until the shrimp change color, and then remove from heat.
Uncover pot and gently taking one spatula of rice at a time, mound it on a serving dish without disturbing the crust in the pot. Place the shrimp on top. Finally detach the crust from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spatula and serve on the side.

I thought the updated version was definitely an upgrade taste wise. The combination of herbs and spices came together beautifully; I absolutely loved the subtle spiciness of the crushed peppers.

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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