Giving thanks for Thanksgiving, with a little inspiration from Iran

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 4, 2013

photoThe spirit of Thanksgiving seemed embodied in the Tahcheen-e Feel Morgh, Persian baked rice with turkey, its gorgeous golden crown and sides as smooth as a cake, its subtle saffron-infused flavour melting in the mouth, the turkey moist and succulent.

We didn’t do it on Thanksgiving, but a few days after, in the mood to give thanks for Thanksgiving. Sans the pressure.

Tahcheen–e Morgh is more usual in Iran, but we used turkey (Feel Morgh in Persian) to stay in tune with the season. This recipe from a book titled ‘Saraban’ by Greg and Lucy Malouf was perfect, courtesy of the blogsite ‘Taste Travel’. The blog is written by the former owner of an art gallery and a cooking school and if that sounds like an unusual combination, I’d venture to suggest it’s a spectacular recommendation for anyone who likes a Tahcheen.

The dish can be a little like a work of art, I suppose, and (as with all artistic endeavours) prompts much dissension about the right way to create it.

But the Maloufs’ proportions were perfect – 350 ml of yoghurt, 3 egg yolks, salt, pepper, saffron (and I sneaked in a bit of kewra because we had no orange flower water). That’s the marinade for a pound of chicken or turkey. The marinade is ultimately mixed into half (of two cups) the parboiled rice. The yoghurt-y rice is layered at the bottom of a well-buttered oven dish, then the fowl, and finally, the plain boiled rice. Cover, cook at 250 degrees centigrade (that’s where we differed from the Maloufs, they recommended a slower oven) for 2 -1/2 hours, pop out onto serving platter and voila, there’s the spirit of Thanksgiving to savour. With a little help from Iran.

It seemed to gel with the new season of goodwill between Washington and Tehran. But then again, one never knows.