After the Ayatollah Khomeini ousted the Shah of Iran in 1979, many of the country’s wealthiest and brightest fled to the United States and a large number of them ended up in Beverly Hills. I’m not sure why exactly, but they settled in quite comfortably and soon became the majority in California’s most glamorous zip code (that would be 90210). And with them, they brought the recipe for this delicious and easy rice pilaf.
You can’t grow up in Beverly Hills without eating this rice at least once a month. You’ll usually find it on kitchen stoves of your friend’s parents or at pot lucks and if you’re lucky, in your own home. I haven’t thought about this rice in a very long time, but with an excess of fresh dill in my fridge, suddenly it came to me. Tah-dig is a common side dish made many different ways, but usually includes lots and lots of dill. The versions I had in high school were a beautiful deep green color because every grain of rice was coated in dill.
I dug around on the internet for a viable recipe and most of them seem to suggest the strange behavior of wrapping the pot lid in a dish towel. Seemed unnecessary. But when I saw how much steam the rice generated (duh) it suddenly seemed necessary to absorb all that moisture so the bottom would get really crispy.
I decided to add artichoke hearts because they are delicious and sweet and go well with dill. Feel free to omit.
This rice would be absolutely divine with my Greek kebabs. Recipe here.
Persian Rice with Toasted Pine Nuts and Artichoke Hearts
Serves 2 as a hearty side dish
You will need:
1 cup white basmati rice
1 large handful of fresh dill sprigs (about 1/2 cup tightly packed)
3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
1 large artichoke
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1 medium-sized non-stick saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Like this one.
1 dish towel
1 medium-sized pot.
1 wooden spoon
1 small gauge strainer for rice. Like this one.
1. Place the artichoke in the larger medium-sized pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 35 minutes or until the leaves peel off easily. Set aside to cool or rinse with cold water to cool quickly.
2. Rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in the saucepan and then add the rice. Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Drain the rice. Rinse and dry the saucepan and return it to the stove. Melt the butter over medium heat and fry the onions for 2 minutes. Add the rice back to the saucepan and mix with onions using a wooden spoon and turn the heat down to a simmer.
4. Place the dish towel over the pot and then replace the lid. Wrap the side of the dish towel up and round the pot and tuck and fold the fabric so it won’t hang off the side. This prevents moisture in the pot and allows the rice to get crispy. Cook on low heat/simmer for 30 minutes without disturbing.
5. Remove all the leaves from the artichoke (eat them). Clear away the rough hairy part of the artichoke so you just have the heart. Slice into small pieces and add to the rice.
6. Remove the rice from the pot and mix in a large bowl with the lemon juice, salt and all-spice. Roughly chop the dill and add. Toast the pine nuts in the saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes and add to mixture.