Persian Chicken with Sabzi Polo – not forgetting the gorgeous crispy base!
Sabzi Polo Serves 4
I wanted something nice to go with Persian Chicken rather than run-of-the-mill rice and decided on a dish called Sabzi Polo (Sabzi means ‘green’ and Polo means rice and that’s pretty much what it is!). If you live in the Middle East, you love the crispy base (it’s called tahdig) on your rice dishes – and I have to agree. They go out of their way to make sure that the bottom layer of the steaming rice forms a crispy, ricey crust that is wonderful. I thought it might be a bit like if you like the skin on rice pudding – but it’s not that controversial, it’s pure yumminess!
1 bunch of parsley, dill and coriander OR substitute for 5 tblsp dried Sabzi (buy it here Sally & Stef Spices)
1 bunch fresh fenugreek (methi) OR substitute for 2tblsp dried methi (buy it here Sally & Stef Spices)
4 spring onions
1 1/2 cups of basmati rice soaked for anything from 1-2 hours before you’re ready to cook (I soaked mine for 1 hour)
1 cup of stock
If using fresh herbs, wash dry and chop them finely.
Drain the rice and add to a pan of boiling, lightly salted water. Bring back to the boil and fast simmer for 2-3 minutes before draining into a sieve. Set aside.
Mix the herbs together.
Add the butter to the base of a large saucepan and leave it to sizzle until melted.
Spread 1/3 of the rice over the base of the pan, turn the heat to low.
Spread 1/3 of the herb mixture over the rice.
Spread another 1/3 of rice over the herbs and continue with the rest of the rice and herbs.
With the handle of a wooden spoon, make 5 holes in the rice/herb mixture that reach right to the bottom of the pan.
Pour the stock over the holes that you’ve just made in the rice and follow with a quarter of a cup more hot water. Cover the rice mixture with a piece of crumpled up greaseproof paper.
Then put a piece of foil over the saucepan and finally, top with the lid. Now don’t look at the rice until it’s cooked
Leave the heat on high for a minute until you can hear the stock bubbling and then turn to medium for 3 minutes.
If you have a diffuser put the saucepan on top of it. If you don’t have a diffuser put a dry frying pan over the heat and the saucepan inside that which will take the direct heat away from the bottom of the saucepan. Carry on cooking on the lowest possible heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pan undisturbed for 10 more minutes.
Take the lid off and gently mix the rice and herb layers together, taking care not to disturb the crusty base.
When serving the dish, make sure that everyone gets some of the wonderfully crunchy tahdig!