A spring herbed rice pilaf for Nowruz

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Author Yasmin Khan. (Photo by Matt Russel) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

The spring equinox is just around the corner, and that means Nowruz is upon us. To celebrate, many Iranians will start off the year with traditional dishes like sabzi polo baa mahi, a fragrant saffron rice pilaf served with salmon. Author Yasmin Khan makes her version of the classic using handfuls of fragrant chives, parsley, cilantro and dill to symbolize the rebirth and renewal of spring.

“For many Iranians, the best part of this dish is the crisp crust that forms at the bottom of the pan during cooking — the ‘tahdig,’” Khan tells us in “The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen.” Mastering the buttery saffron crust requires some practice, but the trick is to wash, soak and parboil your rice before steaming it very slowly in a well-sealed saucepan. Then transfer the saucepan to cold water bath to loosen the tahdig from the bottom and just…flip! If all goes well, you should have yourself “an elegant golden rice cake.”