Photo by Alex Lau
This crispy baked Persian rice is often layered with meat, dried fruit, spices, and presented in a rectangular shape. We omitted the meat to keep things simple and went with a round shape to change things up. Rinse the rice to keep it from getting gummy, and parboil it so it will be soft and tender after baking. The yogurt, eggs, and oil are what create the golden color and crispy texture, which will have you coming back for bite after bite.
- 4 servings
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dried barberries or 1 cup dried tart cherries
- 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads, finely ground
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
- 1/2 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil, plus more for dish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 large palmfuls of salt (about 1/2 cup). While you’re waiting for the water to boil, place rice in a strainer or sieve and rinse with lukewarm water, swishing rice around with your hands to get rid of excess starch. Continue to rinse until water from rice runs clear.
- Add rice to pot and give it a few stirs to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice begins to rise to the top and is tender but still has a slight bite to it, 6–8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook barberries, stirring often, until plumped slightly and warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rose water, if using.
- Place rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Combine saffron and 2 Tbsp. hot water in a large bowl. Let sit 10 minutes to allow saffron to steep and draw out as much color as possible. Mix in egg yolks, yogurt, 1/2 cup oil, and 2 tsp. salt. Scatter rice over yogurt mixture and gently toss to ensure every grain is coated.
- Coat a 10″-diameter glass pie dish with oil (glass lets you check on the color from underneath). Add half of rice mixture and use the palms of your hands or a measuring cup to gently pack and compact rice into dish. Scatter half of barberries over and top with remaining rice. Press down again, this time more firmly (this helps with unmolding).
- Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until rice on the bottom and around edges is a deep golden brown, 65–80 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; discard foil. Loosen the rice around the edges using the point of a knife. Place a large plate on top and invert rice onto plate like a cake. Scatter remaining barberries over top.