The ABC's of Cooking with Lynn Fredericks
author of Cooking Time Is Family Time

L  is for Legumes
Persian Lima Bean Rice
(Bahali Pollo)

Yield: 4-6 Servings

This Persian dish is wonderfully aromatic and highly nutritious. My children have always adored this dish because the flavors meld together and the chicken is so tender and moist from the steaming, that it falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. It does take some time to prepare, so you may want to first give it a try for a festive weekend meal. This is also a fabulous dish reheated the next day either in a pot with a little water or the microwave. We often make it on a Sunday and offer the left-overs later that week when I'm going out and I want something easy to reheat for the boys.

  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 10 assorted chicken parts (legs, breasts, thighs etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 2 10 ounce packages frozen baby lima beans
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • kosher salt to taste

Equipment: scissors, large kitchen towel to cover lid of the pot

1. Place the rice in a bowl until the rinsing water is running off clear and no longer cloudy. This step removes excess starch to make the rice more fluffy. Cover the rice with water in the same bowl and add 3 tablespoons of salt and set aside for an hour.

2. While the rice is soaking, older children can wash off the chicken pieces and pat them dry with paper towels. (If your family has to watch cholesterol and fat intake, you can remove skin from the chicken but this will compromise flavor somewhat.) Meanwhile, place a large pot filled 1/2 way with salted water on high heat and bring to a boil Meanwhile place a skillet on medium heat. Have small child measure one tablespoon of the oil and pour it into skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook in the oil until browned on both sides. Reserve in the pan with juices. (Note: chicken really splatters when it is sautéing; be sure to keep children at a safe distance so they do not get burned.)

3. While you are supervising the browning of the chicken, give little ones the dill and some scissors. Have them snip the dill into a small bowl and reserve. Next let them open the frozen beans and taste one. Observe how the flavor is muted because they are so cold! Let them taste a lima again when they thaw to room temperature.

4. When the water boils, older kids can drain the rice from its soaking water using a colander. Then parents can pour the rice into the boiling water. Boil until it is parcooked and still chewy, approximately 4 minutes. Just before it is done, add the limas directly from the boxes. Stir and remove from heat. Parents can drain the rice and beans in a colander, making sure to evenly distribute the limas among the rice.

5. While the rice is draining, place 2 tablespoons of water into the bottom of the large pot. Place it back on the stove and let the children take turns measuring the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon of butter and add them to the pot. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a bit of kosher salt.

6. With a big wooden spoon have the children help you place a layer of the rice and limas across the bottom of the prepared pot. When you have used a third of the rice sprinkle a bit of slat and let kids add 1/3 of the snipped dill. Now place 1/2 the chicken pieces over the seasoned rice. Repeat once more with rice, salt, dill and chicken and then add a top layer of rice, salt and dill only. Pour chicken juices from pan over the top of the rice. Wrap a kitchen towel around the top of the pot to form a seal to steam the rice. Place the rice on very low heat and let cook for 1 1/2 hours.

7. When it is cooked, mound the rice and chicken onto a big platter. The bottom of the pot will have a thick layer of crusty rice. This is a Persian delicacy called "Tadeeg" or "bottom of the pot." This should be broken up, scooped out and served on top of the rice or on a separate platter. As you will see, it is wonderfully crunchy and delicious! Place on the table, family style, letting each family member take their portion of rice and chicken and break off a piece of tadeeg with their hands and place it on top of their rice.

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