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This dish is based on a half-remembered few bites of absolutely delicious I had in the Souq in an Iraqui? Iranian? Syrian? restaurant awhile back. No idea if the flavors are quite what I tasted, but the theory is based on a popular dish called Tahdig. Tahdig means “bottom of the pot” and from what I’ve heard is a good comfort food. I can definitely see that, and we could all use a little comfort right about now.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Vaguely Persian Crispy Rice

1.5 cups leftover cooked rice (I used a long grain wild/basmati mix and I heartily suggest something along those lines)

1/2 yellow onion

2 Tablespoons mustard oil

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons butter or vegan butter substutute

1 small butternut squash, roasted with salt & pepper

1 scallion

Pomegranate molasses

Fresh parsley

Slivered almonds

Optional: leftover chicken sauteed simply with salt, pepper & oregano in a little oil

In a smallish nonstick pan, bring the mustard oil up to temperature over medium-high heat. While that’s working, mince the garlic. Add the turmeric, mustard seeds and garlic to the hot oil. Let bloom, stirring occasionally a few minutes or until the seeds just begin to pop and the air smells great.

While the spices are working, roughly chop the onion.

Add and sautee until softened.

Add the leftover rice, stir well to combine, season with salt & pepper and smash flat onto the bottom of the pan. I smashed mine with a potato masher into as thin and even a layer as possible.

Let cook undisturbed until crisped on the bottom. You will know the rice is done when the brown rice starts to pop, the air smells a bit nutty, and little bits you push from the outside of the pan to the edges look toasty. This is a nerve-wracking prospect.

When your rice is about 2/3 of the way done (or you’re at peak ‘I know it’s burnt’ anxiety), add the butter in pieces all around the pan.

While that’s working, chop and reheat the squash. Chop the scallions. Chop the parsley.

When the rice is ready, top with the squash, scallions, parsley & slivered almonds. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses over top. Serve with the chicken if you need a protein in your meal.

Serves 2