WHAT IS CHELO?
It is an incredibly popular (in Iran) dish of steamed white rice with saffron. Real, high grade saffron is very expensive, so this recipe just focuses on the rice. Chelo is paired with the classic meat kebab back home in Persia. Some websites have described this recipe as intimidating to make. As rice dishes go, is it as easy as pushing “start” on your rice cooker? No. But suck it up and give it a shot anyway! This tasty recipe is worth the effort.
SUGGESTIONS WHEN MAKING CHELO
- Steaming for Success
The first step to Persian Rice is to use Aged Basmati Rice. The second secret to the long, fluffy grains is steaming the rice in a pan covered with a clean dish towel that “traps” the excess moisture away from the rice as it steams.
- Start the Night Before
Soaking the rice for at least an hour and up to overnight is recommended to ensure the longest possible grains as the rice absorbs the water and expands. Soaking also shortens the cooking time considerably. Although this is a traditional step, you can certainly make rice without soaking it, and for everyday meals this is often easier.
- Crunchy On the Bottom
A prized aspect of chelo is tah dig, the crispy crust of rice at the bottom of the pan. Made correctly, the tah dig should come out in one piece and be placed on the table alongside the rice for everyone to share a little piece.
WHAT PAIRS WELL WITH CHELO?
Meat kebab is on the top of this list. Any protein dish in general that can have a side of rice will work just as well. This is a mild-flavored dish so pair your beverages to the center of the plate in terms of recipe flavors.