Adapted from Food 52 recipe by Fig & Quince
2 ½ cups Basmati rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound carrots, julienned
½ cup barberries (soak in cold water for 5-10 minutes, rinse a few times, drain)
2 tablespoons sugar, separated
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon ground saffron, dissolve in 2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup almonds, slivered or chopped
¼ cup pistachios, chopped
1. Wash rice with cold water, using your hands to swish it around. Repeat several times until the water runs clear. Drain.
2. In a large pot bring 2-3 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Gently add the rinsed rice. Bring to a gentle boil again and boil rice for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally & gently. Drain in a colander. Pour 2 to 3 cups of tepid water over the rice in the colander. Drain again.
3. In a big pot, preferably nonstick, bring 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons oil plus 1 tablespoon of butter to a boil. Then, one spatula of rice at a time, arrange rice in the pot by first covering the bottom of the pot, using a spatula to spread it, then layering the rest of the rice to taper on top in the form of a pyramid or dome. Make several wells in this rice dome with the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover and cook over medium heat until rice steams – usually around 20 minutes.
4. Once steaming, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes until rice is fully cooked. When done, turn off heat and let rice rest undisturbed in the pot for 5 minutes. (Your goal here is to both produce fluffy steamed rice and a crusty bottom referred to as tahdig.)
5. Meanwhile prepare the carrots and barberries. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add carrots and sauté over medium heat until slightly soft, around 5 minutes. Season carrots with cumin, coriander, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir to combine, then cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe skillet with a paper towel, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil till very hot; reduce heat and sauté barberries with 1 tablespoon sugar on low flame, stirring frequently, for no more than a minute. Remove from pan and set aside in a separate bowl.
6. Once rice is ready to be served, place 2 spatulas of rice in a small dish and sprinkle with saffron water, using a fork to fluff the rice grains and color it with saffron water. Lightly mix the colored rice into the pot, not fully integrating so that you will still be able to see it when it is served.
7. You have two options for how to serve the rice:
Platter inverting method: Using a butter knife run it along the edge of the pot to separate the tahdig (crisp rice) at the bottom corners of the pot. Then, using a large platter, set it over the rice cooking pot and invert the contents of the pot onto the platter in a quick flipping movement. If the tahdig does not comes with the rice just take a moment to release it in as few pieces as possible and layer it on top of the rice pile. Top with prepared carrots and barberries in between or next to the tahdig. Garnish platter with the pistachios and almonds.
Scooping pyramid method: Alternatively, taking one spatula full of rice at a time, arrange a layer of rice on a platter and then top with a third of the carrots and barberries. Then add another layer of rice, forming a pyramid or dome with each new layer, top it again with another third of the carrots and barberries. Repeat till you've used all the rice, reserving just a little of the carrots and barberries to serve as garnish. You will then reach the tahdig, or crispy bottom. Try to separate this from the pot as gently and as in tact as possible. Top the pile of rice with the tahdig to serve. Garnish everything with remaining barberries and carrots, and the pistachios and almonds.