For the lamb chunks (gheymeh):
300g lamb lean lamb leg, shoulder or neck fillet, cut into 3cm cubes
2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil or any other vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large cinnamon stick
3-4 tbsp tomato puree
3/4 tsp salt
For the rice and tahdig:
2 cups basmati rice
3 heaping tablespoons table salt
1cm thick slices of baking potatoes (about two medium)
2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil or any other vegetable oil
20g butter
For the garnish:
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp of hot water
2 tbsp dried barberries
2 tbsp almond slivers
2 tbsp pistachio slivers
1-2 tbsp rosewater
One large orange
2 tbsp sugar
30g butter


Cook the meat:
Heat the oil in a medium pot and lightly brown the lamb chunks and chopped onion on medium heat. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t catch. Spoon the tomato puree over the meat, add the salt and cook for a couple of minutes. Add enough boiling water to cover the meat. Turn down the heat, cover and braise the meat until it’s very soft and almost all of the water has evaporated. This will take about 1 hour depending on the size of the chunks and the cut of meat.
Cook the rice:
Put the rice in a bowl. Fill the bowl with water and gently rub the rice between the palms. Drain. Repeat 2 or 3 times until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with water. There must be about 4 cm of water on top of the rice. Add the salt and gently stir. Let soak. The longer the rice soaks, the better it will be. So give it at least two hours or even let it soak overnight.
Fill a medium-sized lidded saucepan (preferably non-stick coated) with water and bring to the boil. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Gently stir and cook until the rice grains are al dente (soft with a bite in the centre). Drain in a sieve and rinse with lukewarm water.
Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium heat until very hot. Sprinkle some salt on the oil and arrange one layer of sliced potatoes in the bottom of the saucepan. Use a large spoon or skimmer to gently transfer the rice from the sieve to the pot, slightly heaping it in the middle. Wrap the lid in a clean tea towel and cover the pot tightly.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave oven.
Increase the heat and cook the rice for a couple of minutes on high heat or until the side of the pot is very hot to the touch. Lift the lid, pour the butter evenly over the rice and cover with the lid again. Lower the heat as much as you can (using a heat diffuser is helpful) and let the rice steam for approximately 45 minutes. The rice is ready when you see a lot of steam and there is some caramelisation around the bottom (you can see that if you have shaped the rice into a mound).
Prepare the garnishes:
While the rice is steaming scrub the orange well. I scrub the orange with a very fine cheese grater to help remove the bitterness of the peel. Remove the peel in wide strips and remove almost all of the white pith, then shred finely. Cook the peel in plenty of water to remove the bitterness. Drain in a sieve and taste for bitterness. Repeat the boiling if it’s still too bitter and drain again. Rinse with cold water and return the peel to the saucepan. Add the sugar and stir. Only the water clinging to the peel will be enough to dissolve the sugar. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
Prepare the saffron according to the instructions in How to Use Saffron, the King of Spices. Set aside.
Melt 1/3 of the butter in a small saucepan and cook the almond slivers for a couple of minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Prepare the pistachio slivers in the same way and set aside.
Melt the remaining butter and briefly cook the barberries until they are shiny and puffed up. Be careful not to burn them. Set aside.
Put the dish together when you are ready to serve:
Put a few tablespoons of the rice in a bowl and mix with the prepared saffron.
Put half of the remaining rice on a large plate. Spoon half of the cooked meat on the rice. Cover with the rest of the rice and shape into a mound. Put the potato slices (tahdig) from the bottom of the pot in another plate to serve separately.
Garnish the top of the rice mound with the rest of the meat, saffron rice, slivered almonds, slivered pistachios, sweetened orange peel and barberries. Alternatively, mix the nuts, barberries and orange peel with saffron rice and scatter over the rice. Spoon the rest of the meat on the dish. Serve immediately.


Friday, August 18, 2017 - 12:53am


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