Reshteh polo is a fragrant and opulent Persian rice and noodle dish. It is one of the traditional dishes served at Nowruz (Iranian New Year). It is a perfect blend of sweet and savoury with chicken, caramelized onions, dates and raisins.
1-1/2 cup long grain basmati rice
1 cup Persian wheat noodle (reshteh)
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/2 tablespoon of turmeric
3 large onions
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons of saffron sprigs
1 cup Sultana raisins
1/2 a cup of pitted medjool dates
2 teaspoons of Persian five spice
Combine two tablespoons of ground rose petals, two tablespoons of ground cinnamon, two tablespoons of ground cardamom, one teaspoon of ground cumin, one teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
In a large bowl, cover your rice with warm water and move the grains around with your fingertips. Drain the water and repeat the rinsing process six times, until the water in the bowl is clear. Cover the rice once more with water and add two tablespoons of kosher salt. Set the rice aside and soak for one hour.
Julienne three onions. Using two tablespoons of butter, sautee three of the onions in a pan until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
In that same pan add butter, saute your raisins and dates on medium-low heat for five minutes. Then add 1/3 of your caramelized onion to it and set the mixture aside.
Cut your chicken breast into two inch pieces.
In the same pan that you sauteed your raisins and dates in - add a tablespoon of caramelized onion, chicken breast, 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and 3/4 cup of water. We are giving the chicken a quick braise until cooked on med-high heat. Make sure you put a lid on your pan for the quick braise. About 12 minutes. You don’t want any liquid left over in the pan once cooked.
Take the mixture of your chicken and onions and set it in the oven on 170 Fahrenheit - keeping it warm for later.
Grind down your two teaspoons of saffron sprigs in a mortar and pestle and add the ground saffron to 1/4 cup of hot water. Stir the saffron water mixture and set aside for use later.
Fill a large pot with six cups of water and one tablespoon of salt and bring the water to a boil. Drain the rice you had set aside and pour it into the pot once the water has boiled. Stir the rice once after adding to the pot and boil briskly for seven minutes - stir gently again once to loosen any grains.
Cut your Persian noodles in half and add to the boiling water and rice. Cook in a rolling boil for three minutes. Check your and make sure it is parboiled. Softened but still a little firm.
Once the rice is parboiled. Drain the rice and noodles in a colander and rinse wash with cold-warm water. You are washing off any excess starch from the rice and stopping the cooking process.
In the same pot, melt four tablespoons of butter.
Once melted you can begin the layering process.
Using a flat serving spatula, add two layers of rice and noodles to the bottom of the pot. Add some of your caramelized onion. Sprinkle a pinch of Advieh. Drizzle a layer of saffron. Keep repeating the process, making sure you are layering in the shape of a pyramid.
Once finished layering, using the back of a wooden spoon, poke 5 holes into the top of the pyramid; allowing the steam to escape.
Cover the pot with a lid and cook on medium for ten minutes. Once you see the rice steaming. Remove the lid. Cover it with a kitchen towel and put the lid back on the pot. The towel is used to absorb the steam, so it does not trickle back into the pot.
Turn the temp to med-low and cook for another 30 minutes.
Once the rice is cooked, again using a flat serving spatula, add one layer of the rice and noodle mixture to a serving platter. Then grab your raisins and dates and your chicken and onion mixture and add it to the platter. You are now layering all of your cooked items together.
Last but not least, at the bottom of the pot, there will be a layer of crispy rice or tahdig. Make sure to scrape up all that goodness and serve separately.