Growing up in different towns in Khuzestan (south of Iran), we had to drive far to find a green patch with trees for sizdah bedar and we would share it with other families, which was always fun to find more kids to play with. For those of us who were born, raised or have experienced the Nowruz in Khuzestan, we all know that there's nothing like it and I always cherish the memories of sizdah bedar picnics with my family. Shevid baghali polow with chicken or lamb and a big pot of Ash Reshteh were the two dishes we'd take on picnics.
Shevid Baghali Polow with Morgh - Dill Lima Beans Rice with Chicken
Morgh - Chicken
8 chicken drumsticks (other parts may be used as well)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons of hot water
1/4 teaspoon crushed cardamom (optional)
Juice of 1-2 lemons/limes
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat, saute onions till translucent. Add the chopped garlic and turmeric, saute for an additional five minutes.
- Place the chicken pieces in the skillet, add salt, pepper, cardamom and brown on all sides.
- Pour in enough water to cover all pieces.
- Cook on medium-low heat for an hour.
- Half way through the cooking add the liquid saffron and in the last fifteen minutes sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over the chicken.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning and set aside.
Polow - Rice
2 cups basmati rice
2 cups baby lima beans (fresh or if frozen, thawed)
2 cups finely chopped fresh dill or 1 1/2 cup dried (I used 1 1/2 cups fresh and 1/2 cup dried)
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
Dash of cinnamon *optional
1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
- In a small bowl mix dill, lima beans, turmeric, dash of salt and cinnamon, mix well. Set aside.
- Wash rice with cool water, soak in 8 cups of water, add 4 tablespoons of salt for 1-2 hours.
- In a non-stick pot bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and gently pour in the drained rice.
- Let the rice boil for 7 minutes and test to see if the rice is ready. Rice grains should be firm in the center and soft on the outside.
- Drain and rinse with cool water.
- Wash the pot and return it to heat, add 4 tablespoons of oil to cover the bottom.
- Place a layer of rice then a layer of dill and beans and continue layering into a pyramid shape. Make 4 holes in the rice with a bottom of a spoon to let the steam out.
- Cook the rice for 5-7 minutes on medium to high heat till rice starts steaming.
- Pour 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 cup of water and the liquid saffron may be added at this point or later on when you serve it on the platter.
- Lower the heat, cover and cook for 50 minuets.
* Variations: Cooked chicken could be added to the rice as another layer when layering rice with herbs and beans. If you are cooking the rice and chicken together, instead of using the melted butter for topping, add a couple of tablespoons of chicken liquid on top of the rice before putting the lid back on tightly.
Enjoy and Happy Sizdah Bedar!