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1. Get Basmati rice from your local health food store (expensive) or your local Indian/Iranian store (cheap). Basic parboiled rice will probably not work.
2. Get yourself a sieve - you'll want it.
OK, the recipe:
1. measure out the amount of rice you'll need and rinse it several times. I measure it into the sieve & run water through it and shake it up and down in a pot of water.
2. Sit the rice in its sieve in a pot of water and 1-2 Tbsp. of salt overnight. (This step can be left out, but you won't get as consistent results.)
3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil - you need enough water to allow the rice to roll around and not stick to itself. Remove the rice from the water its been soaking in (see why you'll want the sieve?) and dump it in the boiling water. Cook, stirring every so often, until it is al dente (like spaghetti). For me, this has always been 5 minutes.
4. While the rice is cooking, scrub and slice a potato into 1/4''  slices. Or, if you don't like potatoes, get out a piece of pita bread.
5. Drain the rice back into the sieve, Rinse out the pot (getting the starch off it), dry it a bit, and put it back on the stove. Melt about 1-2 Tbsp. of butter - enough to cover the bottom of the pot & lay down your potato slices or a piece of pita bread, covering the bottom. Spoon the rice back into the pot, keeping it away from the sides (or it will stick & become hard). Cover your pot lid with a clean dishcloth and put the lid on the pot. Do not forget the dishcloth or you'll get soggy rice. Yech.
6. Cook on medium high for about 10 minutes - until you can smell the potatoes - and then turn the heat really low for about 30 mins. (You can leave the rice on longer if the rest of your dinner isn't yet ready.)
7. Turn the rice out onto a plate & serve. The potatoes or pita bread are called Tahdig & are very tasty (if you haven't burnt them), but you don't have to eat them if you don't want to.
Saffron & currents or raisins.
You should soak the currents or raisins in hot water for 10 minutes or so to plump them up. They get added to the rice in the sieve before the rice goes back in the pot in step 5. The saffron, I haven't yet tried & I forget when it's supposed to be added - step 5 or at the end. Experiment.
VR: sjane RL: Jane (S.J.) Skinner e-mail: email@example.com