Monday 29 July 2013

Persian Broadbean and Dill Rice ( Baghali Polow )

It was a sticky weekend, hot and humid. We were glad of calming rain to cool the air and freshen things.  We podded broad beans to make Persian broad bean, dill and garlic rice to eat with smoky fish and tiny chopped salad Tehrani. When we ran out of dill we shopped for some along  this road.  It's supposed to be on a leyline and full of mystic energy. 

We went vintage shopping on Sunday and found beautiful old brown leather ice skates.  I imagined who wore them first. Some kind of Joe March figure gliding down a frozen lake. A lovely old antique umbrella too that fastens with a neat little button. I could see H loved it, so it's hers. She starts her travels next week and I will miss her so much. I'm beginning to already and we've four more days to go.

Then I spotted a 1950's lingua-phone. French-English complete with books with awesome graphics and all the 45's. I so want a record player, an old one to spin those vinyls. It's on the kitchen table and I'm frustrated...I long to hear the voices, in distant 1950's French. All things supposed to be for the shop but lots never get there...these old treasures are hard to part with.

Meanwhile I made this duck salad and tuna salad and we had the last family roast chicken dinner before H's goes. Watched this and decided to re-watch all Woody Allen's films beginning with Annie Hall and read this. I ran out of green tea so drank lots of lovely black tea from here (they do the best orange pekoe) and in-between bought a grinder for A's coffee beans...a nice old planet loving hand turned one to replace all the new electrical ones that keep breaking down. But it's just as noisy. So now he's a happy bean too...

...and the house smells amazing...

At last here is the requested Persian dill and broad bean rice recipe...sorry for my tardiness.

  • Four cups of basmati rice
  • Broad beans, two cups when podded or frozen ones if you can't find fresh.
  • A large bunch of fresh dill
  • Lots of fresh garlic cloves at least two
  • A pinch of saffron if you have any
  • Plain oil and a little butter or ghee. I find ghee a little bit sour and so don't use it
  1. Prepare the beans by podding and then blanching  them in a little salted water for a few minutes. They will be cooked again with the rice later. Allow them to cool a little and then remove the thick skin. If you pinch them at the top it should split and then you can peel the outer skin off, leaving the tender inner bean in tact. 
  2. Wash and chop the dill finely removing any thick stalks and peel and crush or finely chop the garlic.
  3. Place the rice into a saucepan. I find a stainless steel one works better for cooking rice than a cast iron one. Wash the rice under running water lots of times until the water runs clear. This may take a lot of rinses but is well worth the effort. It's what makes the rice grains separate as you can see in the pictures, unlike Japanese rice which is intended to be sticky.
  4. Cover with cold water and add salt enough so that if you sip a teaspoonful you can taste the salt. Place on the hob and bring to the boil. If using frozen beans add them at his point and cook for a couple of minutes until the rice is al dente. Cooked on the outside but it should still have a hard centre. When you break or bite a grain you will be able to see the white central core. Don't leave the rice whilst it's boiling because it mustn't be overcooked. 
  5. Place a large colander in the sink and pour in the hot rice to drain. Was with lots of cold water and give the colander a good shake to separate the rice grains.
  6. Return the pan to the hob, add a little oil and butter or ghee plus a couple of tablespoons of water. Allow it to heat up until it begins to make a sizzling sound.
  7. Put in a layer of the drained rice and then some of the dill, garlic and fresh blanched beans.Continue layering up the rice and bean/herb mixture finishing off with a layer of rice. Form the rice into a dome shape with a large spoon. Make three or four holes, in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon or something similar. This ensures that it all steams well.
  8. If using saffron you can sprinkle with a few strands at the point. Alternatively place a few strands in a mortar and grind. Then and add warm water to form liquid saffron. When the rice is cooked remove a little to mix with this and top the rice on the serving dish.
  9. Take a fine clean tea towel like this and cover the pan lid and place on securely so the rice will be steamed. Allow the rice to sizzle for a couple of minutes so that you are sure it's beginning to steam and then reduce the heat and leave it to cook. This should take at least thirty minutes. It can be left longer to keep warm on a really low setting.
  10. We usually check if it's ready by splashing cold water onto the pan, if it sizzles loudly that means it should be ready.
  11. Turn off the heat. Fill the sink with a little cold water and put the pan into it. It may make a lot of noise and move around as it cools quickly. This will stop it cooking. 
  12. Carefully remove the rice and place in a serving dish being careful not to break the grains. A bit flat round spatula is good for this. 
  13. Finally if the rice has cooked properly there should be a lovely crunchy bottom layer the tah-dig (pan bottom) that should be served separately. I liken this to the crunchy outside of good roast potatoes. 
This is often served with slow cooked lamb or fish and yoghurt or the little Persian salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumber and onion with a simple salt, lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

I hope these instructions make sense. I'm happy to try and help if any one has any further questions. 

joining Amanda...coming?


  1. The bean and rice sounds nice. But I love the look of that coffee grinder.

    1. I was so pleased to find the coffee grinder. We have gone through so many...they break very easily. I wanted to find a traditional one like the ones in little cottages we've stayed in on French holidays. This was a bargain and it works beautifully. I love the smell of freshly ground coffee.

  2. WE had low humidity and it was fantastic, I made our first cucumber salad of the year, again tasted like summer. We also went for a walk that has been shelved due to the heat wave. Love your images and the skates are quite the find! Love your pottery :)

    1. So glad you had a break in the weather, your salad sounds lovely. The smell of fresh cucumber is so evocative of summer. The skates are really cute, they made me want to watch Little Women again. My favourite version is the one with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder. Thanks about the pottery.

  3. love that coffee grinder! and the old ice march indeed!