This is a recipe, as promised, from the menu at the Nairobi Reunion dinner I hosted. (My recipe was awarded an Editor’s Pick on Amanda Hesser -the ex- New York Times Food Editor- and Merrill Stubbs’ Food 52 project).
Dill is used widely in Persian and Afghan cooking. It lends a lovely fragrant, herbal quality to the rice- which can be paired with an aubergine and savoury mince casserole or a even a simple roast chicken.
A few cooking notes:
- I have learnt that the trick with this rice is to move very fast- once the rice has been parboiled and drained, the layering with the dill has to be done very quickly so the warm temperature of the rice doesn’t drop too fast.
- The rice and dill are layered in a dome-like shape in the pot. This allows the rice to steam uniformly.
* 1 cup Basmati rice
* water for soaking and parboiling
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 cup fresh dill, chopped very fine
(The detailed instructions for preparing Basmati can also be viewed in this post.)
*Soak the Basmati for 30 minutes minimum, (preferably an hour, minimum);
*Boil 6-8 cups of water, when it comes to a rolling boil, add the Basmati. Let it cook for 13-15 minutes;
*To test when the rice is ready for steaming, take a grain and if it is soft on the outside but breaks between your finger and thumb, remove from the flame. It should be al dente;
*Drain the water. Place pan on the stove on low heat and add olive oil. With a wide-rimmed spatula, add a thin layer of rice to the pot. Sprinkle with dill, and keep layering the rice and dill in a towering dome shape; like a pyramid.
This ensures the rice cooks evenly;
*To release the steam, make 2-3 holes (one in the middle and two on the side) with the handle of a wooden spoon;
*Cover the pot with a tea towel, replace the lid and let it cook on low heat for 15 minutes;
*Decant with a teacup saucer or wide-rimmed spatula./blockquote>