This is a classic Persian recipe. I have seen some recipes with jarred sour cherries, but most with fresh. This was the only dish of cherry week that I did nothing to sweeten the cherries, and the tartness was really nice mixed with the toasty rice. The only thing I wish was that the cherry flavor permeated the dish more and not just on cherry bites. As with any Persian rice, the crust, or "tadig", is the best. The best!
Ha. Every recipe this week starts with this picture. Pitting cherries is getting old.
I like how many indian and middle eastern rice recipes are boiled instead of steamed.
After it is strained, you layer it with butter, saffron, and the cherries.
When you take it out of the pot, try to keep the shell intact. I have NEVER been able to keep the shell intact! It doesn't change the deliciousness, just the presentation.
I served it with a piece of barely seared tuna and a simple arugula salad (with CHERRY tomatoes hehe). I like how each thing has an element of red. MMM tadig tastes like popcorn.
I used Jaden's recipe as a starting point, but I also have a pretty good persian cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij (Rostam's Mom).
About 40 small sour cherries
2 cups rice
Big pinch of saffron in 2 tablespoons of warm water
3/4 stick butter melted
Rinse rice till water runs clear.
Soak rice for an hour.
Boil rice 8 minutes in plenty of salted water (more like cooking pasta than rice)
Add half the butter to hot pot (enameled cast iron works best for me)
Add half rice and stir a bit.
Add half cherries and half saffron/saffron water evenly. Think of this as a layer.
On to the next layer. Add the other half of everything starting with the rice.
Put a kitchen towel over the top of the pot, then add the cover. This helps keep the steam in.
High about 8 min, low about 20. Keep a nose near the pot during the first 8 minutes, and turn it down if it smells burn-y
If you can dump this out without messing up the crust - good for you, but if you cant, no big deal. It still tastes awesome!