28 February 2007

Pilau

* 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
* 1 T salt
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil or 4 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
* 1 large egg


Optional step if you have time- Wash the rice thoroughly, then place in a large pot with 3 tablespoons of salt and enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak for 2 to 3 hours. Drain well.

If you didn't soak the rice, rinse and drain it well. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a vigorous boil. Add the salt, then gradually sprinkle in the rice. Stir gently to prevent sticking, and bring back to a boil. After the rice has been boiling for a 2 minutes (longer if you didn't soak it), test for doneness. The rice is ready when the outside is tender but there remains a slight uncooked resistance at the core of the grain. If the core of the grain is brittle, it's not done enough. Continue to check the rice until done, then drain in the sieve and rinse with tepid to cool water (to prevent cooking any more).

Place the pot back over high heat and add the oil or butter and 1 tablespoon water. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and egg. Stir in about 1/2 cup rice, then place in the sizzling oil and spread over the bottom of the pot. Gradually add the remaining rice, sprinkling it in to form a mound. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make three or four holes through the mound to the bottom (make them fairly big; they let the steam escape so the bottom doesn't burn so quickly), then cover the pot with a lid wrapped in a tea towel. (The towel helps seal the lid and absorbs moisture from the rising steam- I usually skip the towel.) Heat over medium-high heat until steam builds up, 1 to 2 minutes, then lower heat to medium-low and cook for about 30 minutes. When it is done, the rice will be tender and fluffy with a flavorful crust, the tahdig, on the bottom. The crust on the bottom is what you're looking for. It should be golden brown and crunchy.

The tahdig comes off more easily if, before removing the lid, you place the pot in an inch of cold water (in the sink) for a minute. If you made the pilau in a non-stick frying pan it's easy to remove (I do this so it's easy and so you get lots more crust). Mound the rice on a platter. It will probably need more salt. This is from Seductions of Rice. It's a lot easier to make then the length of the instructions might suggest.

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