Prep Time: 90 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Passive Time: 1 hour
2 cups Basmati (or 3)
3/4 cup clarified butter
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic paste (mashed in a mortar with a dash of salt)
1 1/2 lb stew meat cut into no bigger than 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 lb tomatoes, chopped (or the equivalent in canned tomatoes)
1 1/2 lb green beans , ends cut-up and beans cut-up into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp rice advieh (see note)
1 dried lime (or juice of a lime)
3/4 cup plain yogurt mixed with one egg
1/2 tsp saffron, ground in a mortar and dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
Note: Advieh is a mix of spices and in the case of rice dishes it is composed of
2 T ground dried rose petals, 2 T ground cinnamon, 2 T ground cardamom, 1 T ground cumin
- Place rice in a colander set over a bowl and rinse under tap water; dump rice into bowl, add 1 T salt (can be coarse salt) and water to cover by 2 inches; let it rest for a couple of hours.
- Prepare the stew: Heat some clarified butter or oil over medium heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Fry the onions for 10 minutes then add the garlic and the green beans. Stirfry for 20 minutes and remove to a bowl. Brown the meat then add two cups of water and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Place the green bean and onion mixture back; add the tomatoes, then add the spices. Lower the heat as much as possible, or place a heat diffuser under the pan. Let the stew simmer gently for 40 minutes.
- Pour 2 quarts of water and the salt into a nonstick pot over medium heat; add the drained rice, and bring to a boil; watch carefully, as the rice should not cook till soft, but only till it loses it raw state and gets barely al dente, about 2 or 3 minutes; test by lifting one or two grains and biting; it should not be soft, it should still be hard. Drain the rice into the colander and rinse quickly.
- Heat 1/2 cup butter in the same pot over medium heat for a couple minutes while mixing two cups of rice with the yogurt mixture and saffron water. Tap the rice mixture at the bottom of the pot carefully in order to form the crust or tah dig.
- Place 1/3 of the green bean stew (using a perforated spatula to leave out the juices) over the rice, and repeat this operation till the rice and stew is used-up, tapping the pilaf from all sides to shape it like a pyramid. Cover the pot and cook it for about 10 minutes until the steam escapes from the pot and it looks like the pilaf is holding together.
- Lower the heat, and using the handle of a wooden spoon poke three holes in the pilaf all the way to the bottom. Pour the remaining saffron water, stew juices (no more than 2 cups total), and butter over the rice in a circular motion. Cover the lid with a dish towel, close the lid and let the pilaf steam gently for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- To serve the rice, turn off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes; loosen the edges of the pilaf with a spatula all around; uncover the pot and hold the serving platter over it. Flip it over the platter and carefully remove the pot. It should have formed a nice cake-like shape. Serve immediately with a yogurt salad or green onions, fresh herbs like basil and pickled veggies.
In the event the rice pilaf does not unmold easily, empty the pot one ladle at a time onto the serving platter and shape into a pyramid as much as possible. Unmold the crust gently with a spatula and set it next to the platter in a dish. While cooking the stew first, let the juices evaporate as you do not want to add too much juice to the rice, or it will overcook when steaming; leave about 2 cups of juice in the stew at the end.
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