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My cookbook: "Tehran to New York"

On the Norouz day of 2020 spring, I finally published my book. The manuscript is titled: "Tehran to New York: A culinary bridge between Persian and Western cultures" and aims at presenting a unique blend of classic and contemporary Persian recipes, as well as samples of Western-style cuisine, offered in a Persian context. It is important to build bridges between cultures, and not walls. This book aims at constructing a bridge between the Persian and Western cultures. The book may be ordered here:  

Persian rice with ramp and bacon Tahdig

A while ago this BLT Tahdig post, Persian style rice with crispy bacon on the bottom, was posted on the blog. The very unorthodox, rather controversial (since bacon is not Kosher), rice had a bacon layer on the bottom in lieu of the common ingredients (e.g. potato or flatbread) which are used in the preparation of Persian Tahdig. To this day, this method is the author's best way of cooking bacon and in light of two facts; the first, that bacon slices remain perfectly flat under the load of rice; the second, that the slices soften in the water (added to the bottom of the pan initially, which later transforms into steam). In addition to be perfectly crispy, bacon also releases oil which infuses the rice with pork flavor; furthermore, the bacon oil dispenses with the need for added external fat.
The presented recipe contains ramp, the seasonal favorite which also happens to be a spring popular item in the mountainous regions of Iran. Ramp is particularly used in the preparation of a West Iranian pilaf dish, called Valak-polow. The crispy texture of ramp is one that the ramp enthusiastic reader should definitely try, among their other ramp adventures this spring.

2 cups Jasmine, Basmati, or long grain rice
3 slices of thick bacon
3 ramps (3 Romaine lettuce, or Swiss chard leaves, if ramps are off-season)
Pinch of saffron (optional)
2 TBSP water

Parboil and drain the rice following the instructions on the original BLT rice. Arrange the bacon slices and ramp leaves on the bottom and the sides of a non-stick 2~3 Q.t. saucepan. You can choose to add more bacon, I however found the fat from three thick slices enough to moisten the rice and also to ensure that ramps get crispy.

Add the water to the bottom bed of bacon and ramps, sprinkle with an optional pinch of saffron, and cover the bottom bacon and ramp bed with rice. Cook, covered with the cloth wrapped lid, for 30 minutes over low heat. During the first five minutes the heat should be high to generate the desired steam. Do not uncover the pot during the cooking process, or you will lose the crucial steam.

Invert the pan onto a plate and gently lift the pan. In case the rice sticks to the pan, loosen the rice by running a knife around its edges. Even if the rice does not come off perfectly, it is not a big deal. Unload the white rice first and then gently detach the crispy bottom layer with a spatula. Many Persian households do not possess a perfectly non-stick pan, or some may own aging ones, and this is how the Tahdig situation is handled.

The rice was perfectly infused with the pork flavor.

The dish can also be made in glass bakeware and in the oven (here I used a 1.5 Q.t. glass dish). I arranged the bacon slices and ramps on the bottom and sides and added the water. I gently added a quarter of the rice to secure the bed. I then sprinkled the rice with a pinch of saffron and added the rest of the rice to the dish.
Tightly cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and cook in 400 F (~205 C) for 40 minutes.
Crunchy ramp is amazing, a texture of ramp that you need to try...

Depicted above is an oven-baked lettuce version of the rice, without using bacon and ramp. In case ramp is off-season, use lettuce or Swiss chard instead.