25 March 2012

Sabzi polo Mahi~Persian Herbs rice, served with fish(Traditional Persian New year's eve dish)

In Iranian culture, Nourooz(also might be written as: Norooz,Nowruz) or the beginning of the new year is the very first moment of spring. Iranian's were the first nation who invented solar calendar. As a result of this ancient discovery, we Persian people are proud to have the most beautiful and realistic new year tradition among all nations an throughout the history. Let's be honest! who gets upset with spring coming around and winter going away?.
 One of the most symbolic and beautiful Nourooz traditions is cooking this herb rice with fish and the dish is called sabzi-polo mahi in Persian words. The dish is eaten on new year's eve and green color is a symbol of the upcoming spring.  Here I present a rather non-traditional version of this rice dish. Not do all Persian folks make their sabzi-polo like this and this is indeed my twist of the dish with using the traditional ingredients. I cooked my rice with red cabbage Tah-dig. If you don't know much about Tah-dig, you can read these previous posts(1,2,3) . Short words, it is the crispy rice or other veggies from the bottom of the rice pan and is a huge delicacy in Persian cooking and food culture.
I found a beautiful yellow tail pomfret and baked it to serve with my rice and celebrate the spring!
Happy spring folks!

150 gram Chinese chives
150 gram parsley(With stem on)
150 gram dill(With stem on)
50 gram fresh fenugreek leaves
4 cups of Basmati or Jasmine rice
4 TBSP butter
1/2 cup water preserved from boiled rice
Pinch of saffron*
Red cabbage leaves(or lettuce, potatoes, bread,...) for Tah dig
*A cheaper alternativ will be using turmeric instead of saffron 

As I said earlier, this is not the most traditional way to do it! I blanched my herbs in salted boiling water for a minute.

In the mean time, I baked the fish on a bed of  left over herb stems

Then drained the herbs 

ice water bath  is to preserve the green color! it is spring! remember?

Then squeezed as much water as I could 

Then processed it to  reach a course puree consistency. 

I added the puree to the water from boiling rice(heavily slated), butter and saffron

Then mixed the boiled-drained rice and gently folded in the rice.  for instruction about Persian style rice you can visit this post

I used red cabbage leaves to make a non-traditional Tah-dig. Covered  them with the rice mixture and put on low heat for 30 minutes.
Here is the rice after 30 minutes of steaming

Traditionally, this dish is supposed to be eaten with 7 year old garlic pickle. After this long time, garlic's sharpness transforms into a mild and sweet fermented state of  flavor.  I clearly did not have that much time, so I made a pickle with garlic, balsamic vinegar, black fig vinegar and soy sauce to simulate the flavors. After 40 days, my pickle was ready and was damn good and sweet!

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