This is a long recipe just to make rice but rather than as a side dish this rice is really the main event. Well made Persian Rice should have a crunchy rice layer at the bottom (or in this case potato) called tahdig. That is the difficult part you need to get to know your pot and stove to achieve this without under-browning or burning the bottom and to be honest for me its really hit or miss. I usually err on the side of under-browning but even if the tahdig is not perfect the rice is still great so I try not to stress myself out over it.
Take two cups of basmati rice in a bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Agitate the rice and drain. Repeat this at least 6 times until the water runs clear. Then soak the rice in 5 cups of cold water and 1 tb of kosher salt for at least 2 hours but I usually do this in the morning and leave it like that until I am ready to cook dinner.
When you are ready to start cooking drain the rice.
In a non-stick pan put 5 cups of water, 1 tb of salt, and a few crushed cardamom pods (you can do this with the side of a knife)
Then add 1/2 a tb of rose water. I only have rosewater concentrate so I added a few drops instead.
Then add whatever other spices you like. I put a cinnamon stick and a few kaffir lime leaves but you can also add cloves, bay leaves, etc
When the water comes to a rolling boil add the drained rice and cook it for 6-7 mins on med-high until its cooked, stirring occasionally. Then drain.
Rinse the rice with a few cups of cold water and pick out the spices
Then prepare the saffron. Take a large pinch of saffron threads or less if that is all you want to use and put it in a mortar and pestle with about a tsp of granulated sugar. Use the coarse sugar to help grind up the threads
Mix the saffron 2 tb of hot water to dissolve it. Then add a few drops of the concentrated rose water. If you have the non-concentrated rose water than mix the saffron with 2 tb of rose water instead of the hot water.
In a bowl combine 1/2 a cup of oil, 1/2 cup of water and the saffron water mixture and pour HALF of it into the bottom of the rice pot. Save the other half.
Peel and slice potatoes about 1/2 inch thick and arrange on the bottom of the pan
Take just enough rice to cover the potatoes and press it down in the pot. Probably best to use a spatula of some sort as opposed to your hand to avoid steam burns….
Then spoon the rest of the rice in the middle of the pot (don’t pack it down)
Wrap the cover of the pot in a kitchen towel so no steam escapes. This step is important so do not skip the towel. and put the pot of med high for 10 mins to make the tahdig. This depends on your stove and pot. I put mine on number 8.
After 10 minutes pour the other half of the saffron mixture on top of the rice
Put the cover with the dish towel back on top and cook on very low for 70 minutes. After 70 minutes take it off the heat and sit the bottom of the pot on something cool like a metal sink that had cold water ran over it for a few minutes to loosen the tahdig. Then go around the sides of the rice with a spatula and invert on a serving dish
The brown potatoes and brown rice around them is the tahdig. It did not come out too bad here actually.