I had a roommate from Iran when I was in my third year of college. Her name was Mahvash and she is the one that introduced me to the recipe for Rice With Dill Persian Style. The university I attended was small and it had a large overseas student population. The year was 1980, long before there were any hostile attitudes toward Iranians. When I look back on the foreign roommates I had in college, Mahvash from Iran and Katrina from Germany, I can see how this experience helped shape my appreciation and openness to different cultures. I mean, there were differences. Everything from how they approached school, their dress, their language, all of this was new to me and the experience is something I’ve never regretted.
Watching Mahvash cook was truly an experience. I can just picture her in the kitchen. It seemed like every pot and pan was being used and in a small apartment with a very small kitchen without a window – there was stuff everywhere! The recipes she prepared were involved and every burner was covered with a large pot. The blend of spices was heavy and unlike anything I was used to. One thing Mahvash and I did have in common was our love for gathering people around a table and feeding them. She would cook all day, call in her friends and there they would sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company for hours. Even though they were continents away from home, they were still able to enjoy the food they loved and feel comfort in the company of one another as they spoke their native tongue.
Dill Dill and more Dill
Making rice with dill Persian style requires a large amount of dill. Mahvash’s mom would send packages of spices from Iran. At the time, I’m sure it was difficult to find international markets in our area offering their native spices. You can find recipes similar to this one and they include a variety of spices such as tarragon, chives, cilantro, and parsley. Some recipes will also include lima beans and other vegetables.
Wash Soak Rinse
The rice for this dish is not cooked your conventional way. You begin with rinsing it a number of times, soaking it and then it is boiled. You are going to love the texture. The grains are ready when they are tender on the outside and have a small hard core in the center. Not difficult to achieve.
Sliced potatoes line the bottom of the pot.
Most people will say that the crunchy potatoes that line the bottom of the pan are the best part. In the picture above you can see the bottom of the pan is lined with the sliced potatoes and then the rice and dill are gradually added and mixed gently not to disturb the layer of potatoes. Oh, and did I mention there is butter. That’s where the crunch comes in.
Rice and dill in cone-shaped mound
After the rice and dill have been added, the mixture is formed into a cone-shaped mound. The top of the cone where you will see steam rise. This shape is also perfect for the simmering process. It starts out on medium heat before it is covered for the final cooking time.
Towel Lid Weight
I Love this! First a towel then the lid and then a weight. This is what keeps the steam from escaping and you don’t want that to happen. It cooks to perfection! I know you might think this recipe has a lot of steps but they are not difficult and the ingredients are very basic. The summer is the perfect time to find fresh dill at your market and the aroma of dill in your kitchen is out of this world!
Well Mahvash, wherever you are I hope all is well and thanks for sharing your hospitality and your love for cooking. I hope you were able to take a little American cuisine back to your homeland and Peace To You.
Thanks so much for stopping by. Rose
ps – a shout out to my neighbor Matt Theuerkauf for helping with some camera adjustments. New lens!
- 2 cups long grain rice
- ¼ cup salt (I used less)
- 12 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 or 2 Idaho potatoes
- 1¾ cup chopped fresh dill
- Several hours before cooking the rice, wash and rinse it several times. Place it in a mixing bowl and add cold water to a depth of about 1 inch above the rice. Add the salt and let stand for 1½ hours before cooking.
- Drain the water into a large, heavy pot. Add about 3 more quarts of water and bring to a vigorous boil. Add the drained rice. Bring back to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes. Test the grains frequently. The grains are ready when they are tender on the outside but have a hard core in the center. Drain immediately so the rice does not overcook.
- Meanwhile, melt butter and water in a saucepan.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into ¼' slices. Enough to cover the bottom of the pot.
- Pour enough butter on the bottom of the pot to barely cover it and arrange the potatoes making a tight fit.
- Carefully add ¼ fo the rice and dill and carefully blend not to disturb the potatoes. Continue this until all the rice and dill have been added.
- Shape the rice and dill mixture into a cone-shaped mound.
- Pour the remaining butter evenly over the rice.
- Place the pot on the stove and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, or until steam comes through the center.
- Cover with a towel so it fits the top of the pot, and then the lid and then a weight so no steam escapes.
- Reduce the heat and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- When ready to serve, spoon the rice onto a platter and garnish with potato slices, bottom side up. The bottoms should be golden brown and crisp. Test the potatoes before removing. You can uncover and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until browned.
- The rice can be cooked ahead of time and reheated by pouring a little boiling water over the rice and steaming for 15 minutes longer.