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Cover the dried orange peel in water. Before you go to bed, drain the water and cover it with fresh water to let it soak over night. The next morning drain the water and cover them with fresh water once more to let it soak until you start preparing Morasa Polo.
If you want to serve your Morasa Polo with Saffron Chicken, start with the chicken first. While it is simmering and doing its magic in the pan, you can prepare the rice.
Prepare the saffron by combining it with a few tbsp freshly boiled water in a glass. Set it aside in a warm place until the rice is ready to serve.
Bring a large pan of water to boil and dissolve 1 tbsp salt in it. Don’t worry, you will rinse most of the salt off later.
Wash the rice in a bowl by adding cool water to it, moving it around with your hand, draining the water, and repeating this process 3 to 4 times.
Add the rice to the pan and keep the water boiling. Let it pre-cook until the rice corns are soft on the outside but still have bite in the centre.
How long this process takes depends on your rice. I’m using Tilda basmati rice and it only takes 3 minutes for the rice to cook to this stage. It might take anything from 3 to 7 minutes.
Once your rice is parboiled, drain it in a strainer and immediately rinse it with cold water to interrupt the cooking process and wash off any excess salt.
Put a coated pan over medium heat. Cover the bottom with 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Add 1 tbsp of water to it. You can also add a little saffron water to it, if you want the tadig (crispy part) to be yellow. Give the pan a quick shake. Then add the rice to it in a heap or pyramid shape.
Poke a few holes through the rice to the bottom of the pan using the back of a wooden spoon. This, along with the heap/pyramid shape, will help the water, that’s still in the rice, evaporate.
Once you see steam rising from the pan, line the lid with a clean kitchen towel and reduce the temperature to low. Let the rice steam for about 1 hour over low heat.
Try the bitter orange peel that you have left to soak in water. If it still tastes very bitter, you can boil it in water for a few minutes and try them again. You can repeat the process a couple of times, if necessary. Once they taste slightly bitter and orangey, they’re ready.
Heat a small pan with the sugar and 2 tbsp water in it. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the bitter orange peel to it and let it caramelise for up to 10 minutes.
Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee in a small frying pan. Briefly fry the raisins in it, for only about 10 seconds until they bloat. Set them aside for later.
Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee in the same small frying pan. Briefly fry the fry the barberries in it, for only about 10 seconds. You don’t need to add any sugar as you would for Zereshk Polo. In this case the barberries give the dish a nice sour taste, that balances out the sweetness of the raisins and caramelised orange peel.
After 1 hour of letting the rice steam, you can touch the outside of the pan with a wet kitchen towel. If it makes a sound like ‘tshhh’ your rice is done.
If the tadig doesn’t come out of the pan easily, you can submerge the bottom of the pan in a sink filled with cold water.
Transfer a small part of the rice into a bowl and combine it with the saffron water until it is evenly distributed and the rice has a bright yellow colour. Arrange the yellow saffron rice on top of the white rice. You can serve the tadig (crispy bits) separately.
Decorate the rice with the bitter orange peel, raisins, barberries, slivered almonds and pistachios.
Serve your Morasa Polo with delicious Khoresh-e Morgh. Enjoy!