This is one of my all time favorite Persian dishes. And since sour cherries are in season this time of year…it’s a perfect addition to your repertoire. I will also admit that while I am a huge fan of old fashioned food, I don’t spend all day in the kitchen. that is why this particular recipes involves the rice cooker and doesn’t take long at all.
1 24oz. bottle of pitted sour cherries (found in any Persian store)
1 cup sugar
3 cups Basmati rice (found in any Persian store)
1/2 tsp. saffron
1 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon ghee
1. Pour three cups of Basmati rice in your rice cooker bowl. Pour more water than you need to cover the rice. Wash by swirling the rice around in the water with your hands.
2. Pour the water out.
3. Repeat steps 1 & 2. You basically want clean rice, but you don’t want it to so clean that the vitamins and minerals are no longer there. So I normally wash the rice two to three times.
4. Once you have washed the rice to your desired level of cleanliness, and emptied the dirty/starchy water, fill the bowl with 3 more cups clean, cool water. You should have somewhere between 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups of water in your rice cooker. (Some rice cookers will differ.)
5. Add 1 tsp. salt and let the rice soak in the water for at least 2 hours. Often times, I let it sit overnight.
6. Add 1 tbsp. ghee and mix it into the soaked rice. Turn on the rice cooker. Your rice should be ready in almost no time.
7. Drain the sour cherries. You can save the liquid for “sharbat-e-albaloo” which is a really nice, cool summer drink.
8. Pour the sour cherries into a pot. Also pour in 1 cup of sugar. I leave this on medium-low for 25 minutes. I stir every now and then, as it is really easy to burn the sour cherries. The cooked cherries and sugar will produce a liquid. You want a liquid that is slightly thick. If it resembles molasses, you’re overcooking and will burn the food.
9. Boil 1/3 cup water.
10. Grind the saffron (either in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle). Add the boiled water to the saffron.
11. Once your rice is done, either scoop it out or flip the rice cooker. If you have a rice cooker which produces “tah-dig” then you are just that much cooler than I am 😉
12. Pour the saffron over the rice.
13. Pour the sour cherries and syrup over the rice.
You will have a beautiful multi-colored concoction. Much sweeter than sour. The saffron really does add a wonderfully strong, subtle flavor to the rice.
Also, this dish is normally served with chicken. The chicken will need to be prepared separately and served on the side. Being vegetarian, however, I cannot give you the appropriate chicken recipe.