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iran-rice shop

Rice (or berenj in Iranian) is all important in Iran. There are specialist shops where you buy nothing but rice. Sometimes, they will also sell rock salt which is what any self-respecting Iranian cook would use when cooking rice. In one shop in Bandar-e Anzali, the capital of caviar, they had a huge pile of rock salt right next to the bags of rice while in another shop outside Rasht, in Gilan Province where most of the Iranian rice is grown, they also had bags of peanuts. I think it was in that shop that I overheard a woman ask about the age of the rice she was buying. I had never before heard anyone discuss ageing rice. Well, people in Iran do and according to them, rice is supposed to be stored for a year before it can be used. Something about it cooking better when it is older as this study explains.

iran-rock salt for sale in bandar-e anzali copy

I can’t buy rock salt in London, at least not from a pile like the one in the picture above, but I can buy good Iranian rice, both sadri and dom-e-sia. The latter means black-tail or black diamond rice because it’s black at one end. Both are very good although my Iranian friends tell me dom-e-sia is the one to get but the sadri in the picture below is priced marginally higher. Anyhow, I now make the treck to Kensington High Street where there is a cluster of Iranian shops to buy my long grain rice. Iranian rice is definitely longer-grained and fluffier than your average basmati but I wish they had the same beautifully bagged and stacked rice as what you find in Iran, or even the displays of the different varieties which you can pick up and run through your fingers to check the grains and make sure they are in good condition. And if they did, I would hope they would be better displayed than the rice in the ugly plastic buckets below but at least they are clean!

iran-rice dispaly copy

There is 4 comments on this post

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    Thank you so much for this series of articles as well as your contribution to Saveur. I have always been interested in Iranian cuisine, as an American, it’s rare for us to see Iranian culture portrayed in a positive light in the media.

  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    you are welcome anora 🙂

  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Ah, Persian cuisine. My first encounter was in Paris and it was love at first taste. And that was also when I learned of the exquisite varieties of Iranian rice. Thanks Anissa for arousing our taste buds. Bon Appetit!

  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    @anora I don’t think people here in the States, including the media, has a problem with Persian culture (about which most of us know little) but rather the government and its policies, a view shared–not unsurprisingly–by every Persian I’ve met, including Moslems, Zoroastrians, and Jews).

    Anisssa, thank you for a most informative entry. I’m wondering if the ban on Iranian products includes items brought in from intermediary countries (like the UK). If not, maybe I could impose on friends to bring me some rice next time they visit. 🙂

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