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To serve gently spoon the rice mixture onto a serving plate lightly mixing the ingredients.

Cheshm bolboli polo, black-eyed pea rice, is a Persian layered rice usually made of fresh dills and fresh black-eyed peas (when in season and available), hence the name. It can be made vegetarian or served with chicken, fish or meat. In this simplified version, dried dills and peas are used and sautéed ground beef is layered in the rice (instead of meatballs) to reduce preparation and cooking time. Canned black-eyed peas can be substituted for dried peas and 1½ cups fresh chopped dills can be substituted for dry dill.

Cheshm Bolboli Polo (Black Eyed Pea Rice)


Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 15 min
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Peas:
1 cup black-eyed peas
4 cups water

Meat:
1 medium onion peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 pound ground beef
½  teaspoons salt
¼  teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried dill

Rice:
2 cups long grain rice washed and drained
3.5 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons oil
1½ teaspoons salt
½ cup dried dill

INSTRUCTIONS

For peas: Rinse and place the peas in a medium size pot. Add 4 cups water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cook for about 30 minutes or until peas are tender. Drain and set aside.

For meat: While the peas are cooking, heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onions and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook until juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon dried dill and cook until meat browns, about 3 minutes.

For rice: Bring 3.5 cups water to a boil in a 4.5-quart nonstick pot. Add rice, 1½ teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons oil and butter, reduce heat to medium high and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the water (do not cover the pot). Pour rice into a bowl and set aside.

Assembly: Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same pot used to cook the rice and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon dried dill. Layer rice, dried dill, peas and meat.  Continue to alternate the layers until all the ingredients are used. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in the rice, all the way to the bottom of the pot to allow steam to escape.  Place a clean dishtowel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot and cover firmly with a lid to absorb the steam. Simmer on medium-high heat for 5 minutes then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes. To serve gently spoon the rice mixture onto a serving platter, lightly mixing the ingredients. The bottom of the rice develops a crispy crust (tadigh) that can be served on a separate plate. To make a thicker crust use more oil on the bottom of the pot and simmer the rice longer, up to an hour.

If made without ground beef, it can be served with braised beefchicken breast or chicken thighs.