This wonderful recipe for Persian rice is from "The Joy of Cooking."
- Coarse salt
- 2 cups white basmati rice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole cloves
- 3 black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds (from about 3 pods)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup thinly sliced onions
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 tablespoons diced dried apricots
- 2 tablespoons dried sweet or sour cherries or golden raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fill a large saucepan with 4 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt, return to a boil, and stir in rice, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and cardamom seeds. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and let stand in a sieve.
Place a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and cook until melted. Remove 3 tablespoons melted butter and set aside. Add onions and saffron to skillet and cook, stirring until onions are golden, about 8 minutes. Spread onion in an even layer in skillet.
Season rice with salt. Spoon half of rice over onion, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with apricots and cherries. Evenly spread remaining rice over fruit, pressing down firmly to compact.
Drizzle reserved butter evenly over the top. Cover skillet with a double layer of parchment-lined aluminum foil, pressing down on the top and crimping the edges. Transfer to oven and bake 1 hour.
Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover, and invert a large round platter over the skillet. Carefully, turn the skillet and platter over. Remove skillet, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.