Afghani Dill Rice
- Basmati or any Long Grain Rice, 2 cups
- Fresh Dill leaves, pick out the tender leaves and discard the thick stems, wash well in running water and squeeze out the water, finely chop the leaves, 4 tbsp (If using dry, no more than ½ tbsp for every cup of rice) *refer to notes
- Onion, finely sliced, 1 medium (optional)
- Green chilies, finely 1-2 (optional)
- Garlic, finely grated/pounded, 1 clove (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- Oil or melted butter, 1 tbsp + 2-3 tbsp
- Water, to cook the rice + 2-3 tbsp for bottom layer + 2-3 tbsp for top layer *refer to notes
- Fresh lemon juice, to taste (optional)
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small pan and fry the green chilies and onions till onions start caramelising and just start to change colour. Switch off the heat and keep aside.
Wash the rice till water runs clear. Soak in cold water for about 20-30 minutes. Drain well.
Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil ( about 8 cups of water) and add the rice. Let it cook for about 6 minutes till about 80 percent done (just like you would for making a Biryani; there should be enough bite left in the rice so that the rice don’t go mushy when we steam cook later)
Drain the rice in a colander.
Once the rice is slightly cool enough to handle, add the onion and green chilies mix, dill leaves and grated garlic to the rice. Mix well with a light hand so that the dill leaves are mixed well in the rice but the rice grains don’t break. Taste the rice for salt and add more if needed.
Remove about 1 cup of cooked rice mix and add in the oil and water to it. Mix well so that the rice gets coated completely with the oil and water
Take a non stick pot and spread the oiled rice at the bottom of the pot in a thick layer.
Scoop the rest of the rice out of the colander and form a volcano shaped mound in the middle of the pot.
Make 3-4 holes in the rice mound with the back of a spatula to release the steam – 1 in the centre and 2-3 on the side.
Sprinkle 2-3 tbsp water on top of the rice.
Cover the pot with a tea towel and place the pot lid tightly over the top of the towel. (The tea towel will absorb the steam and the rice won’t turn mushy)
Turn on the heat to lowest and let the rice steam for about 25-30 minutes. Switch of the heat and let the rice rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.
The oil and water in the bottom layer will help form a nice golden crust to the rice. You can either break up the crust to mix it in completely with the rice or scoop out the crust part later and top up every serving with it. I normally break it up and mix it in – it may be considered sacrilege by most but it helps avoids huge drama on the table about who gets more crust!! J ( and with this I remember why this post/picture took this long to make to the blog – I had plans to post this to show the complete crust…oh well L )
Sprinkle lemon juice over the rice right before serving.
- The amount of dill I use is drastically less than the authentic version. I don’t go beyond 2-3 tbsp for every cup of rice used as against the authentic ¾ to 1 cup of dill against every cup of rice. (It is very strong herb and a little goes a veryyyyyy long way – more so if you are new to using it)
- The reduced amount of dill is also the reason why you see dill being mixed in with the rice right after par boiling the rice instead of layering it in the rice in the pot the authentic way – one layer of rice, sprinkle of dill leaves, layer of rice, and sprinkle of dill leaves and so on and so forth.
- The onion and green chilies are again something I started using to adapt to our taste.
- Garlic and lemon juice – optional and varies from family to family (or restaurant to restaurant!)
- You could use saffron water instead of regular water to steam cook the rice. I quite like the colour of rice as is. If using saffron, take about 2 pinches of saffron, crush it slightly and soak it in ¼ of hot water for about 20 minutes before using.
- I normally use my non stick karahi/wok as the bottom surface is just wide enough to form a half inch thick layer of rice at the base for the quantity of rice I normally cook and deep enough to form the mound with the balance rice.
- It may take you a couple of tries to figure out how much time you need for steaming to get that perfect crunchy crust at the bottom depending on your stove, your pan and the amount of rice. It is crucial to use a non-stick pan and you must must switch off the heat before the smell of burnt rice starts emanating from the pot!! 🙂
- Switching of the heat and discovering no crunchy crust at the bottoms or a barely there crust is not the end of the world – the rice will still taste delicious!! 🙂
- And last but not the least – do remember and I mean it ABSOLUTELY do remember to sneakily tuck away a few pieces of the crust in the kitchen before serving!! 🙂
P.S. way too many smileys in this post…err, I am blaming the new year!!:)