Spinach and Prunes Advieh Rice
45 min Prep, 2 h Cook
Contains Almonds and more
The elegant and festive looks of this dish are befittingly matched by its good taste and nutrition.
Place the chicken, 1/2 the sliced onion, 1 grated garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon RawSpiceBar’s Advieh Spice, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric in a cooking pot and mix well. Add half cup water and cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes to one hour until well done.
Alternatively it can be baked for one hour in an ovenproof dish without the addition of water as the chicken will release its own juices while baking.
Drain any water or juices from the cooked chicken very well and set aside. The drained stock can be used to add to other stews or soups.
Once the chicken is cooled well, add yogurt and one tablespoon saffron water. Mix well and may marinate overnight.
In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil, sauté the remaining sliced onion and grated garlic clove. Add the chopped spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt and simmer five minutes. Stir and let any juices evaporate. It is not necessary that the spinach be fully cooked at this stage as it will continue to cook later.
In a separate skillet or saucepan heat one teaspoon of oil and sauté the 1/4th pound of fresh spinach lightly for a few minutes, making sure not to overcook. As this spinach will be used for garnish, so it is important to retain the color and form as much as possible while cooking it just enough and letting the juices evaporate quickly. Spread the spinach over a plate and set aside for garnishing at the end.
There are two ways to prepare the Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Prunes. One is using the rice cooker which is the easier method. The other is the traditional method which includes boiling the rice first and then baking it in the oven with the rest of the ingredients.
Wash the rice thoroughly, until there is no starchy water. It may require 4-5 rinses until the water is clear. Drain the rice well.
Rice cooker method: Bring two and half cups water to a boil in a rice cooker. Add two tablespoons oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the rice. Let it cook just until all the water is absorbed. It is important to not let the rice steam until it is fully done. Transfer the cooked rice to another container.
Persian rice is usually prepared in a way to form a rice crust in the bottom of the pan. When the rice is finally flipped the crust is on the top. If you prefer to make the rice crust, it is possible to do that in a Persian Rice cooker which is specially designed to make the crust.
In the rice cooker, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter (or oil). Take 2-3 tablespoons of the marinade from the chicken, add couple scoops of cooked rice, one tablespoon saffron water, egg yolk and mix well. Spread this mixture evenly over the melted butter.
Layer the remaining cooked rice, marinated chicken, prunes, spinach and ending with a rice layer. Sprinkle the last tablespoon of saffron water and lemon juice over the rice. Place the lid and let the rice steam for about 20 minutes as per the rice cooker instructions.
Oven method: Alternatively Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Prunes can be prepared in the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
First, bring 7 cups of water and 1.5 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large cooking pot. Add the rice and let it boil at medium high to high heat for 5-6 minutes until the rice grains are soft. Make sure to stir the rice while it is cooking. Drain the rice well in a colander and set aside.
If you prefer to make the rice crust, take a oven proof dish, such as a Pyrex baking dish and melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter (or oil). Take 2-3 tablespoons of the marinade from the chicken, add couple scoops of cooked rice, one tablespoon saffron water, egg yolk and mix well. Spread this mixture evenly over the melted butter.
Layer the remaining cooked rice, marinated chicken, prunes, spinach and ending with a rice layer. Sprinkle the last tablespoon of saffron water and lemon juice over the rice. Pour over the two tablespoons of oil evenly all over the rice. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and seal well. Place the dish in the oven and bake for an hour or more until a golden crust is formed in the bottom.
To serve: Transfer the Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Prunes onto a wooden surface or place over a moist towel for about 10 minutes.
Using a spatula gently loosen the edges as you would do for a cake. Place the serving plate over the baking dish or rice cooker and carefully flip it over as you would do for an upside down cake. Carefully loosen the rice and arrange it.
If you prefer, the crust may be cut out and placed around the rice. Garnish with the sautéed fresh spinach and roasted sliced almonds. You may serve this dish with a Persian yogurt dip with shallots.
Notes: The amount of water added while cooking the rice is very important to the final texture of the dish – Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Prunes. And it differs with the age of the rice. Basmati rice typically will need less water than other long grain rice varieties to yield a light fluffy cooked rice. With any batch of rice purchased, I usually use trial and error to determine the right amount of water needed for cooking. It may range from 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups water per cup of rice. It is important to keep in mind the additional moisture from the other ingredients added to this dish, such as the chicken, spinach and yogurt. Therefore, in the first step, the rice should be cooked in a way to yield a fluffy rice that is well done, but holds its shape well and is not too wet and delicate. The amount of moisture in the various ingredients in Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Prunes is very important for the final texture of this dish. The spinach should be well drained and not be too wet. The chicken should be just lightly coated with the marinade. If the marinade is excessive it can result in the rice becoming soggy. The oil and salt have been added in amounts that adequately balance taste and nutrition. For festive occasions however, other optional ingredients such as butter and egg yolk may be used. And the amount of added fat or salt is adjusted as needed.
Serving Size 455 g
|Amount Per Serving|
|Calories 553.5 cals||28%|
|% Daily Value*|
|Kilojoules 2318.7 kJ||28%|
|Fat 26.3 g||41%|
|Sodium 949.3 mg||41%|
|Carbohydrate 56.3 g||19%|
|Protein 25.9 g||52%|
|*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|