my day was marked by two moments -- one, a testament to the banality of my first world, consumer-based existence; the other, an ill-advised online exchange that quickly disintegrated into a free-for-all.
my writer's block notwithstanding, i was having a good morning. i'd received a notice via email that my persian rice cooker was on time to be delivered today. see? banality in consumerism.
some may ask: why? others may query: what? a persian rice cooker? hurruh?
i love to eat; donc, i cook. my husband is persian. the end.
i've tried now for nearly ten years to master the art of persian rice. my mother-in-law attempted to teach me on numerous occasions, always armed with an infuriatingly sweet smile and a flourishing wave of her hand. "you can do it, joonam! it's easy! you're smart!"
oh for three, mama joon.
i set fire to my kitchen once trying to cook persian rice.
the science behind this delicious creation is a difficult one to analyze. some say this, others say that. press on the kernel of basmati to make sure it breaks easily before lowering the heat. use a towel under the lid to catch the condensation, lest your rice descend to being mistaken for the east asian kind (in case you haven't guessed, this was the source of the aforementioned blaze). use salt, don't use salt. canola oil or butter? soak it or don't soak it?
exhausting . . . and don't get me started on the tahdeeg.
why would i put myself through this? why? when i have a perfectly functional zojirushi that makes the (heretofore) best steamed rice my little demi-korean heart could want?
honestly? persian rice is the best rice in the world.
yep. i said it.
i've tried many different kinds of rice. floral-scented jasmine, indian-style basmati flavored with cloves and toasted cumin seeds, brown rice that's suppose to be akin to heaven's manna from a special part of korea, the perfect pearls of white that flourish in the mirrored paddies of japan, creamy arborio in the labyrinthine streets of florence, etc.
there's nothing quite like the buttery, saffron-laced goodness of persian rice. it's fluffy, never dense (unless i cook it). yet, it's moist and savory (ditto).
the best part? hands down, it's the tahdeeg -- the crust that forms on the bottom of the pot when the rice is made by a true artisan's hands. my mother in law's tahdeeg is crunchy and chewy at the same time. these two opposing facets exist in virtual harmony when the rice is done RIGHT. like the telling nature of a beaujolais nouveau, good tahdeeg can make or break a meal.
just ask a persian.
i caved last week. after my latest disaster, i digressed into quoting popeye -- "that's all i can stands, i can't stands no more." to his credit, my husband has never been anything but supportive. alas, i know him too well. that sweet, half-smile that prefaces a loving lie taunts me to this day.
i can't make persian rice on the stove. it's an absymal failure.
thus, i began my internet search. after twenty minutes of exhaustive research and a shame-tinged phone call to mama joon, i'd found my savior.
no more will i dole out lumpy messes onto the plates of my guests. no more will i painstakingly study one fershlugginer kernal of basmati to determine the right consistency. NO MORE WILL I BURN THE SHIT OUT OF MY TAHDEEG.
free at last, free at last, thank the lord almighty . . . free at last.
p.s. - i'll let you know if it works. tomorrow, i'll share part two.