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Baghali Polo (Fava Bean and Dill Rice)
3 large bunches fresh dill washed and chopped (6 cups)
1 pound frozen fava beans or lima beans
3 liters (12 cups water)
3 tablespoons salt
3 cups long grain basmati rice washed and drained
1/2 cup oil
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 teaspoon ground saffron (optional)
Bring water and salt to a boil in a 5-quart nonstick pot. Add rice; cook over medium heat for about 6 to 8 minutes or until rice rises to the top. Add chopped dill; gently stir to combine. Drain in a mesh colander.
The frozen fava beans used in this recipe are very tender and fall apart if overcooked. That’s why they are added after rice is strained. If using tougher fava or lima beans, add them to the boiling water along with rice and skip the layering step. If you can’t find either of those beans use raw potatoes. Peel and cut a large potato into 1/4-inch cubes and layer in the rice.
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in the same pot used to cook the rice. Pour a layer of rice followed by a layer of fava beans. Continue alternating the layers until all the ingredients are used. Cover; cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the rice starts to steam.
Add the remaining oil and melted butter on top of the rice. Reduce heat to low. Place a clean dishtowel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot, folding the corners to keep away from the heat source. Cover the pot firmly with a lid; cook for 50 minutes.
Serve baghali polo either by placing it on a serving platter or unmolding it. To plate the rice, gently scoop it out onto a serving platter with a wide spatula, mounding it into the shape of a pyramid. Loosen the tadigh (crispy crust) from the bottom of the pan; lay them over the rice or arrange them on a separate plate.
If the tadigh is hard to remove, lower the bottom of the pot into a sink filled with few inches of cold water for few minutes to help release the crust or place on a wet towel.
To unmold the rice, place a round serving platter upside down on top of the pot. Using pot holders firmly grab the serving platter and the pot flipping them over together, as you would invert a cake pan. This will keep the tadigh intact.
Dissolve a pinch of saffron in 1 tablespoon hot water; mix with 1 cup of baghali polo. Use for garnish.