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Persian Rice with Canadian Beef

April 10, 2013


I was lucky enough to grow up in a very eclectic area of Ontario that included both new immigrants and refugees arriving to start a new life in Canada. Welcoming new families to our community and getting to know their culture, I was even more lucky to be able to sample and share their international dishes as many re-learned how to make their time-honoured recipes with new Canadian ingredients.

The most memorable of these meals came from the lovely Persian women in our community, who shared their family dishes from Iran with us. Even as a little girl, I was fascinated by the flavour combinations that my taste buds didn't quite understand, but couldn't get enough of.

As an adult, I've had so much fun experimenting with these flavours and recipes in my own cooking, and have finally mastered my favourite of them all - Lubia Polow or Persian Rice. When I heard that Canadian Beef was pairing with Eat.Drink.Retreat to encourage new food blog stories about cooking and eating experiences with Canadian Beef, I knew it was time to share my Persian Rice story and recipe.

Persian Rice brings together the strange and wonderful combination of Basmati rice cooked with beef and green beans, simmered in a tomato-based sauce packed with an exotic (yet familiar) mixture of spices that most of us have readily available in our own cupboards. It's a great side dish for a large family dinner, or a hearty meal by itself.

A note on ingredients: The following Persian Rice recipe can be adapted to use ground beef instead of cubed beef. Make sure you drain any excess oil after browning the ground beef, before adding the other ingredients. Green beans can also be happily replaced by fresh or frozen & thawed peas as I have in these photographs  - use whichever you enjoy best or have on hand. And if you don't care for dill, feel free to leave it out - many versions of Persian Rice do not include dill, but it was often an ingredient in many my local Persian friend's versions, and I find it adds a brightness to the flavour.

Techniques: Click on this link for a quick tips video from Easy Cooking with Canadian Beef that offers some good advice for how to sear beef for stews... or for your first Persian Rice! Note the important tip they provide about not over-crowding the beef, you want flavour and colour not steam during the searing process.

 

Persian Rice (Lubia Polow)

1 pound of Canadian beef, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes

1 large onion, fine chopped

2 cups green beans (fresh or frozen & thawed)

1 16 ounce can of tomato paste

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons dill (fresh or dried)

1 cup of water

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups basmati rice, rinsed

 

Cook the rice with 3 cups of salted water in medium sauce pan or rice cooker. If you'd like to add more flavour and colour, include either 1 tsp of turmeric powder or 1 teaspoon of saffron (mmmm). Cook rice until 75% done, as it will finish steaming later with the sauce. Set aside. (To follow traditional Persian rice cooking techniques, check out My Persian Kitchen's step-by-step rundown here)

Saute the onion with a drizzle of the oil on medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven until soften, a little browning is fine.

Add the beef in three batches, searing and browning. I make a pile of the cooked onions on one side of the pot and put the seared meat on top as I add new pieces to the hot side of the pan.

Add the tomato paste, water, turmeric, cinnamon, dill, salt and the green beans or peas to the pan. Stir until combined, then set heat to a low simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes until the meat is tender.

Now comes the fun part!

Empty the meat and sauce mixture out into a bowl, wipe the pot clean and place back on the stove.

Turn the heat up to medium and add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot.

 

Now build a layered pyramid of rice and meat/sauce starting with rice and alternating with sauce until you reach a peak at the centre of your pan.

Poke holes down through the pyramid of rice with the top of a wooden spoon down to the bottom of the pan to let steam escape. Wrap the the lid of the pot with a tea towel to absorb excess steam and cook with lid on for 20 more minutes on medium-low to finish steaming the rice and crisp up the bottom.


Back in the old days when the rice was finished, I would watch in awe as those Persian ladies of my childhood would flip the pots over onto large platters, where the rice would spread out, covered in the additively crispy rice bits from the bottom (called Tahdig). I've had varying levels of success with the flip-over technique, so feel free to just scoop out the rice if you're not brave enough to do the flip yet, but don't miss scraping out every last scrap of the Tahdig, trust me!

Devour.

 

Click here to learn more about Canadian Beef and explore a wealth of recipes and cooking tips, and search for #loveCDNbeef to follow their latest news.

Click here to learn more about Eat, Write, Retreat, taking place in Philidelphia in May of 2013.

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This looks super tasty. I will be trying it!

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