Persian cuisine or Iranian cuisine is diverse like the Indian cuisine.Each province has its own way or style of cooking and there are a variety of herbs and rices and other side dishes most of which are with meat.I have read that Iran is a non friendly state for vegetarians/vegan. but I have come across rice dishes where meat is actually optional as well. Pollow or pollo is Iranian pulao or pilaf as it is also known in UK/Europe. It can be made with rice along with variety of herbs and vegetables.Here rice is cooked in a broth along with veggies/meat and based on the veggies and meat added there are several types of pollos.
I was searching for eggplant recipe when I found this recipe for Bademjan Pollo. This is the only site where I have seen this recipe and it was meat free. I am not sure whether it is an authentic dish,but surely veggies are added to pollos.The recipe had lots of oil involved which I have reduced or kept to minimum and have made it slightly my way. I served it with mast o khiar a simple yoghurt -cucumber raitha albeit Iranian style. I have looked through several sites for the dip and they have the same simple basic recipe as that of raitha.
Bademjan Pollo (Iranian rice with Eggplant)
Eggplant or Bademjan is like 'potato of Iran'and there are several eggplant dishes but with meat a well.You can have it in dips,sides,main etc and this is a simple main course where it is folded into rice.
Eggplant: 1 cup cubed
Veg Oil: 2-3 tbsp + 4 tbsp
Onion: 1 chopped thin
Basmati Rice: 1 cup
Tomato: 3-4 medium
Salt & Pepper: as per taste
Dried Dill weed: 1-2 tsp
Cube the eggplant into bite size pieces and salt it. Let it sit for atleast half an hour when it lets out the bitterness. After atleast 30 minutes,squeeze the eggplant pieces and drain them on paper towels.Chop the onion into long thin pieces. Blanch the tomatoes in hot water and peel and chop them into small pieces.
Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a thick bottomed pan,add in oniion and saute till it starts to brown. Add in rice and stir till it starts to brown and dry.Make sure there is enough oil for this.Add in the blanched,peeled and chopped tomatoes,salt ,pepper and enough water as needed to cook the rice. Bring to a boil,reduce,cover and cook till rice is (almost) done.This depends on the cooking time of basmati used.
Meanwhile heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in another pan. Add in the drained eggplant pieces and saute till they start to brown. Drain them on paper towels for removing excess oil.
Once the rice is almost done, fold in the eggplant pieces. Sprinkle dill and mix well.Cover the dish with a lid wrapped in towel and steam for about 10-15 minutes till the flavours blend.
What I did was,I folded the eggplant pieces when rice was almost cooked,then transferred everything to a smaller dish,covered with a lid and put the dish in a pressure cooker /steamer and steamer it for about 5-10 minutes till everything gets blended and cooked.This is my way rather than the mentioned Iranian way.
Serve the rice with cucumber dip or raitha.
Mast o Khiar- Iranian Yoghurt & Cucumber Dip
This is s simple dip or raitha as we can say,where seedless cucumbers are mixed into thick yoghurt spiced with salt,pepper and dried mint. The name literally translates to yoghurt (mast) and cucumber (khiar - remeber it is called kheera in Hindi).Normally Persian cucumbers are used which are similar to seedless ones.
Cucumber : 1 preferbly seedless,though any thing will do.
Yoghurt:1 cup + as needed
Salt & Pepper: as per taste
Dried Mint: 1 tbsp or more.
Dice the cucumber into small bite size pieces optionally peeling and deseeding it.
Take yoghurt in a bowl,add in the salt,pepper and dried mint. Mix well. Fold in the cucumber pieces.Adjust the salt and seasonings and serve with pita or rice (as I did) or chips/crackers as a dip.You can even see pictorial representation of this here.
The combo was perfect. The rice was hearty. The taste was excellent as with any spiced rice and the way of making was interesting as well. The dip reeked of mint which I had added more,but it was refreshing.Hearty meal from Iran it is.