Chelo Safeed (Iranian style white rice)
3 Cups of white long grain rice.
4 table spoons of cooking oil.
3-4 medium size potatos.
4 oz of water.
For best results, soak the rice for a few hours in hot water and some salt before cooking. Peel the potatos and slice them in a round shape. You could use the potatos unpeeled as well since they add lots of fiber to your diet.
In a medium size pot, half-way filled with water, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice (and the water it was soaking in), and let it cook for a few minutes until it starts boiling. Occasionally pick a few of the rice grains with a spoon and chew on them to see if they have softened. When the rice is half-crunchy half-soft, take it out and drain it in a kitchen stringer. Run the tab water on top of it to wash out some of the salt.
Pour the oil in the pot, add 4 oz of water, lay the potatos in the bottom of the pot, add a bit of salt, then pile up the rice losely in the shape of a mountain, on top of the potatos. With the back of a spoon, make five holes one in the center and four around it so that the rice can breath in the cooking process.
Spread a little water on top and close the lid. Let it cook for a couple of minutes on high heat. When the rice starts to steam, change the setting to medium heat and let it cook for about 15 minutes. Then turn the heat to medium-low, sprinkle some cooking oil to stop it from drying, and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Most likely by this time the smell of the potatos has filled the kitchen. Its time to take it out and enjoy it.
In traditional Iranian dishes, the white rice is decorated with a bit of Safron. In order to do that, put a bit of safron in a micro wave safe dish and over high power cook for a few seconds. This helps the safron dry up and give better color. Add a few teaspoons of hot water and let it stand for a few minutes. Pour a couple of table spoons of cooked rice in the dish and mix until they turn yellow. The amount of safron and the color of the rice have a direct relationship. The more you add, the richer the color and aroma. Spread the dyed rice over the white rice at serving time.
Also, for decorating purposes, any one of the natural dyes such as beet juice (purple), leek juice (light green), onion peels (light brown) could be used. In order to do that, in each case, put the vegetable in hot water and cook for a few minutes. Then pour the cooked rice in the juice and let it stand for a few minutes. Spread over white rice at serving time.
Instead of potatos, you can use sliced onions, tomatos, and also any kind of Iranian bread as well as Pita bread. The recipe is the same and they all come out pretty crunchy. If you use nothing, the rice itself forms a crunchy layer called “Tah Deeg”.