Cherry-Pilaf - Pilaf With Sour Cherries And Lentils - Iran -
a2, bean, mideast, rice
2 cups Basmati rice
2 medium peeled onions; thinly sliced
1/2 cup red lentils
7 ounces sour cherries
2 cups chicken or meat broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
This Pilaf with sour cherries and lentils is a Persian-style dish, although I cannot vouch for its authenticity. It is rich enough to eat for dinner by itself; as a side dish, it might be good with a spiced grilled chicken or a lamb stew. It is a composite of recipes from cookbooks and from a Iranian Jewish family I know.
Following the recipe are some important notes (*) on ingredients.
(1) In a 4-5 quart Dutch oven, melt most of the butter and slowly brown the onions. Add the cleaned lentils and fry a bit; then the same for the cleaned rice. Stir constantly, browning the rice without letting it stick.
(2) Add the cherries and 2 1/4 cups liquid made up of cherry liquid, stock, and water. Add 1/4-1 tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp ground cumin if desired; add necessary salt (depending on the saltiness of your broth).
(3) Bring to a boil, stir with a fork, cover tightly, and let cook over the very lowest heat for about 20 mins.
(4) Fluff up the rice with a fork (never a spoon) and add the remaining butter to the bottom of the pot.
(5) Raise the heat slightly for 5-10 mins to form a crust on the bottom (with the right technique, this should be possible without this step...).
(6) Serve, making sure to include a bit of crust in each serving.
An excellent side dish is yoghurt, possibly flavored (like the Indian raita) with one or more of: fresh chopped herbs (parsley, coriander, mint), some salt, some spice (paprika, black pepper, black onion seed, or coriander seed), olive oil, and lemon juice. Even better than yoghurt as a base is strained yoghurt, also called Lebany Spread or Lebanee, available commercially in New England from Columbo or Anoosh (look in Armenian/Arab/Greek stores).
Basmati or Patna rice is a particularly flavorful and long- grained rice from India or Pakistan. Any Indian store and many "natural foods" stores carry it. It is well worth the premium price (about $1.10 a pound); "Texmati" is apparently the same strain grown in Texas, but does not have anything like the same taste. Inspect and clean it before using- there are often unhusked grains and occasionally pebbles mixed in. Then rinse in two changes of water and drain thoroughly. If you cannot get Basmati, use a good-quality unconverted long-grain rice (Alma, Carolina, but NOT Uncle Ben's!).
Red lentils are about half the diameter of ordinary brown lentils. Do not substitute brown lentils, which will prob- ably not cook fast enough. Red lentils are available in Indian, Middle Eastern, and some "natural foods" stores. They often contain largish pebbles, so inspect them care- fully. Rinse to get rid of dust, and drain. Red lentils are also very good by themselves, simply boiled with a few spices and served with butter.
Sour cherries (in the Middle East, v/w + i + s/sh + n + e/a/ino: Greek Vissino, Slavic and Turkish Vishne/a, Arabic Wishna) are available fresh for about one week a year. Most sour cherries go into cherry syrups, pies, and preserves. Canned sour cherries are quite good. You will usually find them in the home pie-making section of your market, near the canned blueberries and baker's supplies, or with the canned fruits. There are occasional stones. (That is, pits, not rocks!) Middle Eastern stores will often have sour cherry preserves, which are too sweet for this recipe.
Almost any stock or broth will work in this recipe. Chicken or lamb is most appropriate-in the latter case, used rather dilute. This is one of the few recipes where you can actu- ally get away with canned chicken broth-but watch the salt.
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Yield: 1 serving
Preparation Time: 0:00
** Exported from Now You're Cooking! v5.32 **