Persian macaroni which consists of ground beef and spaghetti is prepared pretty much the same way Persian layered rice estamboli with ground beef is. You cook the ground beef in sauteed onions and garlic and add tomato paste, green peas (optional), herbs and seasoning. You then cook the pasta and layer it with ground beef mixture and let them steam together until a beautiful crispy and golden crust called tahdig forms at the bottom of the pot. The tahdig in this dish is perfectly seasoned with all the flavors from the delicious sauce.
Persian Macaroni (Persian Spaghetti)
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 10 min
Yields: 6 servings
1 large onion peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
8 tablespoons oil divided
1 pound ground beef
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground saffron (optional)
1 can green peas drained (optional)
1 pound spaghetti
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes. Add ground beef, tomato paste, salt, pepper and turmeric; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in oregano; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until meat is slightly browned. Stir in saffron and green peas, remove from heat. Fresh or frozen peas (1½ cups) can be substituted for canned peas and 1½ teaspoons fresh chopped oregano can be substituted for dry oregano. To add more moisture to the pasta, add about ½ cup hot water to the meat and simmer it for up to 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking (optional).
Bring 6 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large nonstick pot. Add pasta to the boiling water, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking. Cook for 8 minutes or until the pasta is “al dente”, firm but not hard. Drain in a colander.
Add 4 tablespoons oil to the same pot used to cook the pasta. Layer pasta and meat in the pot, alternating layers until all the ingredients are used. Place a clean dish towel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot, folding the corners to keep away from the heat source. Cover the pot firmly with a lid; cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until it starts steaming. Lower heat to low, cook for 30 minutes. For potato crust, place ½-inch thick slices of potato on the bottom of the pot.
To unmold the pasta, place a round serving platter upside down on top of the pot. Using pot holders firmly grab the serving platter and the pot flipping them over together, as you would invert a cake pan. This will keep the tadigh intact.
Serve with Cucumber and Tomato Salad.