Growing up in a Persian household, there are some dishes that form the foundation of one’s childhood. Just as how chicken nuggets or peanut butter & jelly sandwiches are the foundational elements of an American child’s upbringing, there are certain elements of Persian cuisine that form the foundation of a Persian child’s upbringing.
Basmati Rice: The Foundation of it All
Persian food falls into three camps. Rices, stews, and kebabs. One usually goes with rice and stew or rice and kebab, but never without rice. And we mean it, never, ever, without rice. Without basmati rice, a Persian meal is truly incomplete. As author Anissa Helou writes in her cookbook The Food of Islam, “I would imagine in Persia, if a would-be bride didn’t know how to make rice, she would be sent right home.” While kebabs and stews are usually paired with a plain white basmati long-grained rice that’s been rinsed, soaked, par boiled and steamed, there are many, many varieties to Persian rice. For example, polo havij is a basmati rice based dish that’s mixed with sugared carrots, red beans and cinnamon (depending on your family’s recipe). Adas polo is another basmati rice based dish that’s mixed with lentils, saffron, hints of nutmeg, cardamom, cumin and raisins (again, depending on your family’s recipe). Oh, and how could we ever forget albaloo polo, an incredible basmati rice based dish mixed with sour cherries, sugar, and saffron. These are just three varieties of popular basmati rice based dishes, but there are so, so many.
In terms of best basmati rice brands from which to create your delicious masterpiece, there are many options to choose from. Our household favorite is Royal Chef’s Secret, an extra long grain basmati rice.
Tadig: A True Masterpiece
Tadig, sometimes spelled tadigh, is often the star of the show during any Persian meal. After basmati rice has been rinsed and soaked, it’s then transferred to a pot of sizzling oil and saffron. While the rest of the rice cooks, you get a fine, thin layer of absolute deliciousness at the bottom of the pot like nothing you’ve experienced before. In Farsi, tadig literally means “bottom of the pot.” The crispy, golden crust that forms at the bottom of the pot comes out in limited quantities (you’ve got to make a whole pot of rice just to get that one thin layer!), which often leads to it being fought over at the dinner table (I kid you not…). This golden crispy rice is that good. Given the complexities of making tadig, and the limited quantities in which it comes out, we realized there’s got to be a better way.
That was the lightbulb moment for Baaz Bites. In an attempt to get the crispy rice without making all of the rice, we re-invented the process of making tadig. By using mini muffin pans instead of pots, we’re able to up our quantity of tadig production (trust us, we’ve gotten this down to a science). Also, the final shape of our product allows for optimal crispiness on the outside layer while maintaining a perfect amount of chewy basmati rice on the inside of our tadig cups. They’re truly special.
The Killer Combo
While each of our Baaz Bites can be enjoyed on their own, when paired with one of three traditional vegetarian Persian stews, they turn into an out-of-this world dish. One of the most traditional Persian dinner dishes is a plate of white basmati rice, topped with a small piece of tadig (remember, it must be shared equally amongst everyone sitting at the table), topped with a Persian stew. The three most famous Persian stews are ghormeh sabzi, cheymeh and fesenjan. While ghormeh sabzi and cheymeh are traditionally meat-based stews, Baaz Bites has put a vegetarian twist on them by using diced mushrooms instead. It’s really tough to choose just one, as they’re all equally delicious and fit different use occasions.
Ghormeh sabzi is the most traditional of the three, gaining notoriety because of its incredible medley of Middle Eastern herbs, red beans, and hints of sun dried lime.
Fesenjan is a dish like no other. It’s a mix of tart and sweet at the same time, due in large part to its diverse set of ingredients. The slow-cooked pomegranate molasses serves as the star of the show, but is perfectly complemented with Medjool dates, toasted walnuts, and butternut squash.
Gheymeh and tadig often seem like they were made for one another. The rich tomato stew, mixed with diced mushrooms and lentils, complements the crispy grains of basmati rice oh so perfectly.
I consider myself very lucky to have grown up around these tastes and flavors. Persian food is a cuisine type that everyone deserves to experience, and with Baaz Bites, you’ll now be able to try all the classic staples in a modern format.
Whether you’re looking for just the tadig cups or just our delicious vegetarian Persian stews, or a combination of the two, the Baaz Bites shop has everything that you’re looking for!