Dino decided to take on 2 variations of Persian rice for our Supper Club. We used the basic recipe below, and then for the Dill & Lima Bean Rice added a drained can of lima beans, and a lot of dried dill. For the Sour Cherry Rice, we drained a can of sour cherries and mixed those in. We used a suggestion from Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen and reduced the juice with 1 cup of sugar until it was a thick syrup. Drizzle that over the rice at the end.
To make some pretty, yellow rice for the top, put a pinch of saffron in a small dish with some warm water and cover it to let the pigment come out. Put some of the finished white rice in the saffron water and let it absorb the color.
Also, we skipped on the crust part of the rice – it’s near impossible if you have an electric stove and you don’t have a lot of experience with making crusty rice. One day…
Chelo (Steamed Rice)
In a Persian Kitchen: Favorite Recipes from the Near East
2 ½ cups rice
1 ½ tablespoons salt
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
½ cup butter, melted
Step by Step Method:
1. Wash rice three times in lukewarm water and then soak in cold water to which 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt have been added. Use enough cold water to cover the rice. This rice should be soaked overnight (in a pinch, 1 or 2 hours’ soaking will suffice).
2. Boil 2 quarts of water to which 2 tablespoons of salt has been added.
3. Pour off the water in which the rice has been soaked. Add rice to the boiling water and boil it for 10-15 minutes. (Stir rice with spoon once or twice to prevent the grains from sticking together.)
4. Pour the rice and water into a strainer and rinse with lukewarm water.
5. Put 1/3 of the melted butter into the bottom of the pot in which you cooked the rice. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the butter in the pot.
6. Take a spoonful of rice at a time and put it in the pot, distributing it evenly. Allow it to mount into the shape of a cone.
7. Pour the rest of the melted butter over the rice, distributing it evenly.
8. Put paper toweling over the pot. Cover and put 2 or 3 dishtowels on the lid. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium fire. Lower the fire and cook for 35-40 minutes on low fire.
If the rice is cooked at the right temperature, the rice will form a crust at the bottom of the pot which will become crisp and turn a golden brown, while the rest of the rice remains white. If desired, add more melted butter before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
[Note] Put the pot in the sink filled with cold water for a few minutes before serving. This process makes it easy to remove the crust. By putting dishtowels over the lid the rice will cook more evenly throughout.
When serving rice, put 2-3 tablespoons of rice in a dish and add it to 2 tablespoons of saffron. Mix it well and decorate the chelo with this rice. Saffron gives chelo a nice color and flavor.
Chelo is served with various types of khoreshes or sauces.