Chelo Vs Polo feat. Tahdig

Hi lovelies! another Sunday….another post 🙂 You might be a little perplexed by the title of this post but not to worry, by the end of this post you will be all set with the lingo. This post is about rice, rice and more rice!

Rice is a staple in Persian cooking and is consumed with practically every meal. Most of the rice cultivated in Iran is from two provinces in the north called Gilan and Mazandaran (due to the soil quality and climate).

The rice used in Persian cooking is long grain hence it tends to hold it’s shape and doesn’t become sticky. So what’s the difference between “Chelo” and “Polo”? well, Chelo is the name used to describe plain white rice (usually with infused saffron) and Polo is rice that has a variety of ingredients like nuts, fruits and meat incorporated into it (similar to a biryani). Although Chelo is the official name for plain rice, most people tend to just stick to calling rice Polo.

There are so many varieties of Polo depending on the different regions in Iran that even I haven’t encountered them all. The most popular one is perhaps “Zereshk Polo” which is Barrberry rice which is usually eaten with chicken (very popular in celebratory occasions). This is a national dish as you can come across it anywhere throughout Iran. Other popular rice dishes include “Sabzi Polo” (a herb rice served with fish, usually eaten on new year’s eve and signifying start of spring), “Loobiya Polo” ( rice with green beans and meat, sometimes has potato in it depending on the region it’s from), “Addas Polo” (rice with lentils usually garnished with raisins and almonds) and lets not forget”Albaloo Polo” (my favourite!)

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“Zereshk Polo” served with chicken

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Our version of “Sabzi Polo” Herb rice  served with Salmon, tamarind sauce and crispy skin

Cooking rice is an art form in Persian cooking, there are different methods of making it. One type is the usual steamed method which is known as “Katteh” . This is quite a simple and fast method of making plain rice. The other method is called “Abkesh”; this method is the proper and more elaborate way of making rice (either Chelo or Polo). In this method the rice is boiled, strained-other ingredients are added during this point and then cooked with oil. This method is the only way to produce “Tahdig”.

Tahdig literally translates to “bottom of pot”, it is created when rice is intact with the oil in the pot. It results in a crispy layer….words cannot describe the awesomeness of Tahdig. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Tahdig and frankly, I don’t want to know them! Tahdig can be made with just about anything, it can be just with rice. It can be made by layering bread before adding the rice to the pot, it can be also made with slices of potato or cabbage even with sesame seeds….the possibilities are endless!

 

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“Albaloo Polo” Sour cherry rice served with golden potato Tahdig

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“Chaghartame” a chicken, egg and onion stew from the Gilan provence served with white saffon rice and bread based Tahdig

That’s all folks, you now know your “Chelo”from your “Polo” and are aware of the importance of rice in Persian cuisine!

As always please like, comment or share and I’ll catch you next time Xx

Albaloo

Hello there lovelies, it’s another Sunday and hence time for a new post. I thought I’d focus on one of my favourite ingredients the Sour cherry also known as “Albaloo”.

This fruit is closely related to a cherry but smaller and more acidic. There are several varieties of the sour cherry, the dark red morello cherry (which can be found in the supermarket) and the light red variety called Montmorency cherry which is the most popular type and used in baking.

This delicious fruit is used in abundance in Iran; both in cooking and baking. It’s also a popular flavour of many fruit flavoured snacks and juices. We make jams out of it and even eat it either fresh or frozen with a sprinkle of “Golpar” (Heracleum persicum). It’s the primary ingredient of a savoury dish called “Albaloo Polo” (Sour cherry rice) which is usually eaten with chicken, duck or even meatballs and might I add one of my all time favourite rice dishes!!

My love for “Albaloo” stems from childhood; where I used to pick them in the summer from the tree in my granny’s backyard in Iran. We used to make jams out it or just eat it fresh. So I thought I’d share this wonderful recipe with you all so you can also love “Albaloo” as much as I do 🙂

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Picking Albaloo like nobody’s business! 

“Albaloo Jam” Recipe

Ingredients needed:

  • 2 cups of rinsed, pitted Sour cherry (you can purchase Morello cherries from the supermarket if unable to find Sour cherry)
  • 1/2 cup of water  
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  •  juice and zest of 1/2 Lime (NB- if using Morello cherries more Lime juice is needed as the cherries are not sour enough)
  • 1-2 tbsp Persian rose water

In a pot on medium heat bring washed cherries, water and sugar to boil (note:more water and sugar may be needed so be sure to taste through the process)

Once mixture is boiled and the sugar is dissolved turn down the heat and taste the mixture, make sure it has a good balance between sweet and sour. Add the zest and juice of 1/2 a lime, if using morello cherries you must use more than this amount of Lime juice as you won’t end up with a sweet and sour flavour. If too sour add a tablespoon of sugar, turn up the heat and taste again. Repeat this process until mixture is balanced and has both a sweet and sour flavour. Stir in the rose water and turn down the heat, then take off heat and let the mixture cool. Transfer into a jam jar and keep refrigerated.

Hot tip: This jam can be used on anything, even as a substitute for quince paste on cheeseboards. It is divine with blue cheese and heavenly on top of fried cheeses like Halloumi and Saganaki

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My Albaloo jam served with rose water and cardammom panna cotta on a pistachio crumb 

Hope you have enjoyed this post and have a great week ahead. See you next time Xx