Increasingly popular around Europe as a vegan dish, with various nuts added, the original dried fruit rice dish known as shirin is a butter-rich, saffron-infused work of art. Served in Baku with fried meat, this sweet rice is also characterised by a qazmaq, the base. The qazmaq in shirin plov is made with egg and flour or with egg, rice and yoghurt. This produces a fluffy, buttery rice. In some versions the dried fruit is simmered in butter and water. We are using the soaking method to reconstitute the fruit. Chestnuts, cranberries, dates and plums feature in variations.
Pre-cook – 1
3 litres water 800 g basmati rice Salt, pinch
Pre-cook – 2
45 ml milk / water 1 tsp saffron threads
150 g pre-cooked rice 1 egg, beaten 45 g yoghurt 15 g butter / oil, for frying qazmaq 2 tsp saffron infusion (a few threads mixed with hot water)
650 g pre-cooked rice 200 g butter, melted 250 g raisins, soaked in hot water 250 g dried apricots, soaked in hot water, sliced
Soak the dried fruit in hot water for an hour. Soak saffron in hot milk or water for 30 minutes, Pour the water into a deep heavy-based saucepan, add salt and bring to the boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, add rice and cook over a medium heat, about ten minutes. Strain. Leave to cool. When the rice is cold, combine a sufficient amount with the yoghurt and egg to cover the base of the pan with a thick layer. Add a teaspoon of the saffron infusion to the qazmaq mixture. Combine fruit and rice. Grease the base of a heavy-based pot with butter or oil, spread with the qazmaq and fry over a low to medium heat for ten minutes. Spoon fruit-rice mixture in layers on top of the qazmaq, adding a tablespoon of the butter and a little of the saffron infusion to each layer until it is used up. Cover and leave to steam over a gradual heat for at 75 minutes.
See also A Whole Different Bowl of Rice.
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