Talk about comfort food!
And memories of my mother!
Another mash-up of my husband’s and my backgrounds. I set out to make a chicken and rice dish with a bit more flavor by adding a good bit of cumin along with turmeric, and bay leaves. When I went to the store today, I was able to get some beautiful broccoli. I was going to serve it steamed on the side, but I asked my husband if I should add it into the rice with the chicken. He said, “why not?” Although it is not a traditional Persian vegetable (more on that later), it seemed a shame not to add it.
The funny thing was that when I tasted the final dish, I was transported back to my mother’s broccoli rice – the flavor was so familiar. Who would have thought that cooking Persian food for my husband would bring me back to my mother’s kitchen?
The browned chicken is flavored with cumin, turmeric and bay leaves and simmered in water before being added to the rice. We tasted the leftover stock and it was so tasty, that I skimmed it and put it in the freezer for use later. I am tempted to turn it into a delicious soup.
I still have some guilt that broccoli is not a traditional Persian vegetable, so we decided that the broccoli could easily be replaced with fava beans. I will try that another day…
Cumin Chicken & Rice (Morgh Zereh ba Berenj)
3 cups basmati rice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1½ lbs chicken breast, skinned and boned, cut into 2″ pieces
1 Tbsp cumin
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp turmeric
freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
1 large broccoli crown, steamed for 2 minutes and roughly chopped.
In a large skillet, heat 1½ Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent. Add the chicken and brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
Add cumin, turmeric, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Add just enough hot water to cover, stir to distribute the spices. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, parboil the rice in salted water for 10 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water or put the rice in the rice cooker with 3½ cups of salted water and cook for 10 minutes, rinse with cold water, drain and place in a large bowl.
Place ½ Tbsp oil on the bottom of a pot or the rice cooker. Add half the rice. Add the broccoli, evenly distributed, on top of the rice. Remove the chicken from the liquid in the skillet and place on top of the broccoli. If you want to skim out some of the onions, they can be added as well.
Top with the remaining rice. Add about ½ cup of the chicken cooking liquid (stock) to the rice.
Cover the pot with a towel and cook over medium- high heat for 5 minutes then medium-low heat for 40 – 45 minute or cover the rice cooker and cook for 40 – 45 minutes.
Serve with the tahdig and enjoy!
Serves 5 – 6.