Tuesday 29 June 2010

Dampokhtack, Persian Steamed Rice with Broad Beans

Dampokhtak(dam.por.tack) or steamed rice with broad beans would definitely come under the category of comfort food to my husband, me too! The savoury equivalent to rice pudding, and like rice pudding not the most attractive dish.

It’s cooked very differently from the boiled, drained and then steamed Persian rice we usually eat. That has separate grains of rice and a crunchy bottom lining to the pan, called 'tahdeeg' literally pan bottom. The Persian equivalent to the perfect crunchy roasted potato.

Dampokhtak is made with dried, split, skinned broad beans, that are creamy in colour. We buy them from an Iranian delicatessen in London, you may be able to find them in a Middle Eastern or Indian Food Store. If you want to have a go at making them but have difficulty finding them you can buy them on-line from here.

Apparently the recipe was taken by the Moguls to India in the sixteenth century where the beans were replaced with lentils. Eventually the dish was adapted further by the English in India to make what we know as kedgeree.

To make Dampokhtak you will need:

  • 8 oz of Basmati rice
  • 6oz of dried skinned broad beans
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1 medium onion
  • Butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil or alternative to fry the onions

  1.  Wash the rice and cover with a little salted water and set aside to soak whilst preparing the other ingredients.
  2.  Check the broad beans for stones, wash and leave to soak in water for a little while.
  3. .Meanwhile, slice the onion finely, I dice it so that it cooks quicker. Fry in a two litre saucepan in olive oil until soft and caramelised.
  4. Stir the turmeric into the onions, being really careful not to get any onto your clothes. Turmeric (zardchoobeh) is a natural dye made from a root and is even used to dye Persian carpets. It’s really difficult to get off, I've learnt from experience…so do take care. But it’s also a superfood, it’s anti–inflammatory and really good for you. It has a lovely earthy taste and is used in Persian cooking a lot.
  5. Add the seasoning. Drain and add the dried beans and cook for about 15 minutes, until they are half-cooked.
  6. Add the drained rice and then pour over enough water to cover them with an inch of water.
  7. Boil for about 5 to 7 minutes until all the water has evaporated.
  8. Top with a few knobs of butter.Cover the pan lid with a clean tea towel to make it airtight and absorb any moisture. And cook on a low heat for thirty minutes.
Its fine if this has a crispy crust that’s all part of the comfort factor.

Dampokhtak is lovely served at room temperature, traditionally with pickled vegetables. We like to eat it with Salad Tehrani. Which is a bit like a salsa. Finely diced onion, tomato and cucumber, dressed with fresh lemon juice and olive oil and then seasoned with sea salt and crushed black pepper.


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