Persian rice gets its extraordinary crust, or tah dig, as it slow-cooks in a thin layer of oil. The crust is bolstered here by crunchy triangles of pita bread. Tehran-born Alireza Sadeghzadeh, a software developer, learned the technique from his mother. "My mother did most of the cooking, and my father was her favorite critic," he recalls. "It definitely made eating together interesting as the two battled over the exact amount of salt or debated about whether the rice was over- or under-cooked."
More Middle Eastern Recipes
3 cups long-grain white rice (1 1/4pounds), rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Five 3-inch triangles of pita bread cut from the top layer of one 12- to 15-inch round
How to Make It
In a large, nonstick saucepan with a rounded bottom, cover the rice with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat until softened but still very chewy, about 7 minutes. Drain the rice and season it lightly with salt.
Wipe out the saucepan. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the pita triangles, outer side down, and fry over moderately high heat until browned, 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Using tongs, arrange the pita triangles evenly so that their short sides line up with the rim of the saucepan and their points meet in the center. Add half of the rice and press lightly, keeping the triangles in place. Add the remaining rice and press lightly to release any air pockets. Cover the rice with a folded kitchen towel and cover the saucepan with a lid.
Cook the rice over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours, until the rice is tender and the moisture has evaporated. Remove the kitchen towel. Increase the heat to moderately high and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, until the rice is browned on the bottom (you should hear sizzling and smell the rice toasting). Invert the rice onto a platter and serve right away.
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