Even though my green bean harvest was a bust, I have been able to piece together a few meals with what the caterpillars left me. I had just the right amount of green beans left to try a new Persian dish.
The green beans get infused with lime flavor and baked into the rice. You can either use dried lime or lime juice. I have a fair share of dried limes, so I threw one into the ever-useful coffee grinder and got fresh dried lime (is that a contradiction?). The lime scent in the kitchen during the grinding was wonderful!
One of my favorite things about Persian rice dishes is the tadig, the buttery crust that forms on the bottom of the steaming pot. This dish uses a layer of sliced potato as the tadig, another traditional approach.
Many Persian dishes use the spice “advieh”, which is not readily available here in the states, so most recipes substitute cinnamon, which is a decent alternative. But if you can get the real thing, definitely use it!
Green Bean Polou
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 cups green beans, trimmed into 1 inch pieces (from the garden)
1 tsp tomato paste
3 plum tomatoes, chopped (from the garden) (I used a mix of my late harvest tomatoes)
3/4 tsp advieh (or cinnamon)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground dried lime (or 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice)
2 Tbsp butter
Pinch of ground turmeric
1 large potato
Soak the rice for 30 minutes in plenty of lukewarm water, drain.
Meanwhile, put the oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots are lightly browned.
Add the green beans, stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Add tomato paste, tomatoes, 3 Tbsp of water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp advieh. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 12-13 minutes, until the beans are tender. Add the lime, stir and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add 1 1/2 Tbsp salt and scatter the rice into the water, bring to a boil again. Boil the rice for 5 1/2 minutes (it should be almost done). Drain in a colander and rinse.
Peel the potato and slice crosswise into 1/8 inch slices.
Put the butter in a nonstick pot over low heat. Add 2 Tbsp water and the turmeric. Lay the potato on the bottom of the pot, starting in the center and working around in circles to the outside.
Once the butter is melted, Layer 1/3 of the rice on top of the potato.
Add 1/2 the green beans on top of the rice, distributing it evenly.
Repeat the rice, green beans, and end with a final rice layer. Press down.
Cover with a pot lid cover or towel, then the pot lid (if you use a towel, toss the ends up over the top so they do not catch fire). Turn the heat to medium high and cook for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
Serve on a large serving plate. Place the plate over the rice, and invert the pot so the rice mixture is on the plate. It may get a bit messy, but that is ok, it will still taste just as good. This time my tadig stuck to the pot, but a little rebuilding and everything was fine. Enjoy!