If I could pass one of the most precious recipes I know onto you, it would be this one – Broad bean and dill rice (aka Green rice).
This dish is Persian and is called Baghali Polow. It is extremely common in Persian cooking. I have had the pleasure of eating this rice since I can remember (of what you can vaguely remember as a small child).
My family were eating this food 20 years before I even ventured into a restaurant that wasn’t a Westernised version of Italian or Chinese. And of all of the food I have tried, I can say that I have tasted nothing like Persian food, with it’s subtle herbs and flavours. Even to this day in Melbourne, being the foodie capital of Australia, there still isn’t a decent Persian restaurant in the mix. In my childhood this food (and how it is eaten) stretched the cultural bounds of a middle-class Aussie child.
Our family have been friends with this one Persian family since I was about 4 years old. I remember Diana cooking this dish and me flatly refusing it (because it was green of course) for many years. One day I got the gumption to try it, and have never looked back. It was only in my teens that I discovered broad beans were in it (I had a traumatic experience with broad beans as a child – if interested read more here). You would never know. Diana and her family would sit on Persian carpets on the floor to eat, and there was always an array of different rice dishes (white rice, saffron rice, green rice) and casseroles (subtle sour flavours with eggplant, chick peas and minimal meat). Everything was eaten with salad and mint and cucumber yoghurt on the side.
Iraj (Diana’s husband) once asked me if I like Persian food, and apparently I replied “I hate bl*%dy f*$$ing Persian food!” (that was in the days when if someone exclaimed bl*^dy people could gasp in horror). So needless to say, my parents were mortified.
a. I constructed a sentence with the rudest words on the market at the time
b. I was only 4, and shouldn’t have known these words
c. I completely slammed an entire nations favourite dish.
Not a bad effort for a 4 year old. However, I think I have spent the remainder of my life being reminded of this blunder (especially by Iraj).
I have to say that even when I make this dish, it is not as good as Diana’s. She would probably tiss at my method, and I have been refining this dish for the last 4 years. However, it is as good as close as I can get to her mastery.
I have taken this recipe out of The Legendary Cuisine of Persia by Margaret Shaida.
Today I cooked this dish (it took half a day)…and I delighted in every mouthful I ate, and in sharing it with my family and a close friend. It’s not every day you see your children eating 3 serves of rice loaded with broad beans and dill like it was ice cream. This dish is that good (and my son isn’t a fan of vegetables, so that is a great recommendation).
I hope you have the gumption to try it. It will fill your home with the pleasant aroma of dill and broad beans, it will feed you for days and nourish your soul. I kid you not.