Will I ever stop posting recipes that use aubergines in one way or another? Never! I love aubergines so much I always have at least a couple in my fridge. So here is another recipe with aubergine playing a star role.
The now humble aubergine has been eaten in Iran since ancient times. There are references to dishes made with aubergines in 9th century books, like a dish called burani that was created for the very lavish wedding feast of Queen Buran, the Persian wife of Caliph al-Mamoun, the caliph of Baghdad. At that time the aubergine which originated in India was quite a novelty.
The list of Persian rice dishes has no ending. This one is not a particularly authentic one although there are some regional rice dishes that are layered with aubergines such as the bademjan polo of Qazvin (a city to the west of the capital, Tehran).
This dish is one of my “fusion” ones. It’s kind of a cross between bademjan polo and the Spanish paella. The cuisines of Iran and Spain have a lot in common. Sounds strange? It does but food historians have established the connection between the two cuisines. The influence came through the Moors that ruled Spain for centuries. The Moors who had been influenced by the Persians in many ways took both rice and saffron to Spain with them.
Iranian rice dishes are usually made in deep saucepans but I like to make this dish in a big frying pan, much like in making paella. I also like to make it with Arborio rice. Arborio is short-grain and usually used for making risottos. If you are using other rice varieties, such as basmati, make sure you use less water as other types of rice can quickly get mushy unless they are of the “easy cook” type which needs even more water to cook thoroughly.
This dish can be flavoured with saffron, too. I usually use saffron (I’m lucky I always have a stash sent to me by family from Iran) but sweet smoked Spanish paprika is a great spice on its own. I sometimes use both. There are no words to describe the aroma of these spices when the rice is bubbling away on the stove!
I love to serve this scrumptious rice dish with plenty of tomato and cucumber salad (salad shirazi), a basket of herbs (sabzi khordan), yoghurt, olives and/or Persian relishes (torshi). With all these accompaniments the meatless dinner turns into a real feast!
To serve four people you will need the following ingredients:
Cooking time: Anywhere between 45 to 60 minutes depending on the type of rice, size of frying pan and size of burner.