Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe: Persian rice (Tahdig)

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Rumi

Tahdig literally means bottom of the pot and is a Persian style of rice. It is made in stages; first boiled in very salty water and then pan fried until the prized outcome of a golden thin crispy crust is hopefully achieved. Since I never made it before I was surprised and pleased that it released from the pan in one piece with only a few scorch marks. Not perfect…but very very close.

Over the 35 years of my friendship with Abby, we went through two extended periods of not speaking. The first time was when we had our first babies and the second was fifteen years later. The latter lasted nine ridiculous years! Both times it wasn’t clear if we would ever speak to each other again. In the wake of our ups and our downs there lay a string of poor judgements, reckless behaviors, self destructive habits, lack of boundaries and a run in with the law. All of this greatly affected us and our surrounding circle of family and friends… forever. 

Our relationship wasn’t always lovely glossy snapshots. At times it was more like postcards from the edge. Like everyone else’s relationships it was fragile, complicated, at times self serving, challenging, confusing and heart wrenching.

(pause and sigh)

But at the end of the day Abby was always much more forgiving than me. I was not always so eager to let go of disappointments or emotional hits. It’s always taken me a long time to recover from a deep wound. And an even longer time to release the built up residual bitterness inside of me. I think Abby had a much more compassionate loving way about her…she just accepted us with all our flaws and less attractive parts. She was beautiful that way. The last line of Abby’s mom’s eulogy about Abby, she said with a lump in her throat, “she makes me want to be a better person.” And it was true. It was absolutely true. She made all of us want to be better. It wasn’t always easy. There was pain as much as there was love. She wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. None of us were. But anyone who was loved by her was perfectly lucky. I know I was.

Ingredients: 2 cups basmati rice, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 4 quarts water, 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt, 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of oil.

1. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Boil the water in a large saucepan and add salt once boiling. Water should taste like the salty ocean. Add rice and cook al dente for about 6-8 minutes and drain in a colander. Take 1 cup of the rice and mix with 3 tablespoons of yogurt. Add butter and oil to a 10 inch cast iron pan and heat on medium. Once melted, add the rice mixed with yogurt and spread into a thin layer. Add the remainder of the rice and try to gently mound the rice to the center. Make 5-6 vent holes in the rice with a utensil. Make sure you reach the bottom of the pan. You should be able to see the oil and steam from the vents. Add a little more oil if needed. Fry for 15-20 minutes on medium turning the pan a quarter of a turn every 3-4 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat and cook for another 15 minutes or so. ( I cooked mine for 25 minutes in total.) Remove from heat. Take a spatula and loosen the sides. Put a plate over the pan and flip. Cross your fingers! If the rice does not come out in one section you can easily piece it together. No one will ever know.

3 Replies to “Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe: Persian rice (Tahdig)”

  1. Tahdig literally means bottom of the pot and is a Persian style of rice. It is made in stages; first boiled in very salty water and then pan fried until the prized outcome of a golden thin crispy crust is hopefully achieved. Since I never made it before I was surprised and pleased that it released from the pan in one piece with only a few scorch marks. Not perfect…but very very close.

    Over the 35 years of my friendship with Abby, we went through two extended periods of not speaking. The first time was when we had our first babies and the second was fifteen years later. The latter lasted nine ridiculous years! Both times it wasn’t clear if we would ever speak to each other again. In the wake of our ups and our downs there lay a string of poor judgements, reckless behaviors, self destructive habits, lack of boundaries and a run in with the law. All of this greatly affected us and our surrounding circle of family and friends… forever.

    Our relationship wasn’t always lovely glossy snapshots. At times it was more like postcards from the edge. Like everyone else’s relationships it was fragile, complicated, self serving, challenging, confusing and heart wrenching.

    (pause and sigh)

    But at the end of the day Abby was always much more forgiving than me. I was not always so eager to let go of disappointments or emotional hits. It’s always taken me a long time to recover from a deep wound. And an even longer time to release the built up residual bitterness inside. I think Abby had a much more compassionate loving way about her…she just accepted us with all our flaws. She was beautiful that way. The last line of her mom’s eulogy, said with a lump in her throat, was “she makes me want to be a better person.” And it was true. It was absolutely true. She made all of us want to be better. It wasn’t always easy. There was pain as much as there was love. She wasn’t perfect by any means. I wasn’t perfect. None of us were. But anyone who was loved by her was perfectly lucky. I know I was.

    >

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