Submitted by Esther Mendelsohn
My husband jokes that in our 5+ years of marriage, I’ve never made the same recipe twice. He’s kind of right; I don’t like repeating recipes and quickly get bored of using the same ingredients. But this rice… this is one of the few things that does make it onto our supper table every few weeks, because it’s just so good! I love being able to make the rice ahead of time, throw everything into the pan when I have a minute, and just leave it to cook in time for supper.
At seventeen years old I was travelling around Israel with seminary friends, and one of the places we spent time was with my Persian friend’s second cousins in Ashkelon. Their food was just amazing but however much I asked for recipes I just couldn’t understand how all the dishes came together! Four years later, married with my first baby in Jerusalem, I finally had time to experiment. This dish is based on a hazy memory of something I ate in Ashkelon. It had potatoes, it had rice… and the rest I just had to work out! Enjoy!
Since we moved to Israel, I always soak my rice in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain it and run water over it to get rid of some starch. It just comes out much better for this recipe.
Follow the packet directions for boiling the rice. After putting the rice on to boil, add two shakes of both cumin and turmeric. Add the salt and stir slowly into the rice. Simmer until done.
While the rice is simmering, peel and slice two large potatoes evenly to about 1/2 inch thickness. Pour enough oil in a large, deep frying pan to completely cover the base of the pan. Layer the potatoes on the bottom of the pan, thickest first; sprinkle each layer with salt and pepper. If you are adding a sweet potato, peel and slice as above and layer on top of the two white potatoes.
Drain the rice and mix in any additions. In the picture, I’ve added walnuts and cranberries. If adding meat, you can really use any type of meat: just chop it into 1 inch cubes, toss with flour and fry quickly on all sides to coat and seal in the juices. I’ve even used leftover meat with no one the wiser!
Mix it all into your yellow rice.
Now pour the rice and additions over the potatoes until they are totally covered by a thick layer of rice. Get a clean dishtowel, fold up carefully so no edges get near the flame and cover the rice with the towel. Place a lid on the towel, place the pan on a medium flame and turn the gas on medium-low. Leave to cook for an hour.
Uncover the dish after an hour and check that the visible edges of the rice look brown and crispy. Wait until it cools enough to tip the whole thing onto a large platter. Cut ‘slices’ for everyone and eat immediately!
Refrigerates up to about two days, can be reheated in the oven.