This is one of the most popular and traditional dishes to be eaten at Nowrooz, but it is so scrummy (not to mention v.v.easy to make) that we at Persepolis Towers enjoy it on and off throughout the year.
Whilst we would of course prefer that you do all your shopping at Persepolis, we would point out that you can at a pinch substitute fine Chinese noodles for the reshteh (we’re helpful like that). And you can use chicken instead of lamb – just cook it a whole lot less.
You will need (for 7-8 people):
for the ‘ab gusht’:
- 1 shoulder lamb, cut on the bone into 3cm chunks
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 8-9 dried limes*
- 2 level teaspoons turmeric*
- 200g chana dall (split peas)*
- 1 tin chickpeas*
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and halved S & P*
for the rice:
- 7 cups brown (or white) basmati*
- butter or ghee* S & P*
- 2 level teaspoons ground cardamom*
- 1 level teaspoon cinnamon*
- 250g ‘rice’ noodles (reshteh pulao)*
- 1/2 level teaspoon ground saffron steeped in boiling water*
- 250g raisins (soaked in cold water for 20 mins)*
*= available at Persepolis
Apron on? Right, so let’s do the lamb first – it takes a couple of hours to achieve its melt-in-the-mouth target. Rinse the meat, and then place it in a pan with the onion: prick the limes and lob these in too. Fill the pan with water so that it sits at 4-5cm above the level of the meat, add the turmeric and the dall, and bring to the boil. Set to simmer while you go off and hoover or something.
After an hour and a quarter or thereabouts, it is time to start playing with the rice. We recommend brown for this recipe as it is so tasty and good for you, but white is actually more authentic: if using the former, soak it for an hour prior to cooking. Rinse and then cook it in boiling salted water for 7-8 minutes before draining. Next melt a little ghee in a pan, and then layer the rice back in, poke a few holes down to the bottom, and finally wrap the lid of the pan in a tea towel so it fits tightly. Set to steam on a very low heat for around 30 mins.
Once the rice is on, you should add the potatoes and chick peas to the lamb, and season it to taste.
Just before you want to serve, stir the cardamom, cinnamon and noodles gently through the rice (break the noodles roughly into 3cmish lengths). After a further 5 minutes, take it off the heat, and set the bottom of the pan in a few centimetres of cold water in the sink (this causes the rice to contract, making it eaier to turn out). Drain the raisins, and fry them in a little butter, and then mix in the saffron. Invert a platter over the top of the rice pan, and turn the pan over so that the rice settles on to the platter – it should have a glorious, sticky, golden crust. Crack the crust, and stripe the saffrony raisins across the top.
Serve the meat and the meat stock separately, with plenty of fresh herbs, pickles and yoghurt alongside.