Middle Eastern or Persian-Style Rice

This is not the most authentic, old-fashioned method for cooking true Persian rice because we finish this rice in the oven and not on top of the stove. But it is easier and therefore more foolproof. This rice is our usual accompaniment for shish kabobs and chicken brochettes.

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons salt, plus additional to taste
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the water in a large pot to boiling. Add the salt and drop in the rice. Cook quickly over medium heat until a kernel just tests done when you bite it, about 10 minutes. Immediately drain the rice and rinse with warm water.

Coat a shallow baking pan, such as a lasagne pan, with some of the melted butter. Mix 1 cup of the cooked rice with the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 tablespoon hot water. Spoon it into the baking pan and press it down with your fingers. Spread the rest of the rice in a layer on top. Season the remaining butter with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over the rice. Cover the pan with foil and bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Spoon the layer of loose rice into another baking pan. Cover with foil and hold in a warm oven or over hot water. Return the baking pan with the bottom layer of rice (it should be ¼ inch thick) to the oven and bake until pale golden brown and chewy but not hard. Let stand on a cool surface 5 minutes; it should be easy to remove with a spatula. Break the browned rice crust into pieces and serve on top of the loose rice.