Plump red barberries and candied orange peel punctuate basmati rice with rich bursts of colour. The thin crust of rice (tah-dig) that forms on the bottom of the pot is considered the cook’s prize.
The orange-yellow stigmas of a purple crocus are hand-picked, then dried. Understandably expensive, they give food a vibrant yellow hue and a distinctive perfumey taste. Fortunately, a pinch dissolved in hot water goes a long way.
Dried orange peel
Instead of laboriously removing peel from a fresh orange, many Persian cooks buy dried orange peel and soak well before using.
This Himalayan grain is aged to decrease moisture and has an appealing fragrant scent and nutty taste. It’s sold in Indian and Middle Eastern food stores and many supermarkets.
These tart red berries are native to Europe but also grow in New England. Ripened barberries are used in pies and preserves while unripened green berries are pickled and used as relish. Persian recipes often call for dried barberries that must be soaked before use. Try dried cranberries as a substitute.