Saffron Egg and Rice Cake
Toasted and ground saffron threads give color to this Persian egg and rice cake. Accompany it with spicy grilled chicken, meat, and vegetables, or lightly fry wedges in olive oil for breakfast.
3 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons salt
, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup warm water
3 egg yolks
2 cups plain yogurt
freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pour the rice into a bowl of warm water. Remove the starch from the rice by rinsing it in five changes of water until the water runs clear.
Bring 10 cups of water to a boil with the 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot. Boil the cleaned rice in the pot for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so the rice doesn't stick together. Drain in a colander and rinse with warm water. The rice will be tender but not completely cooked.
Toast the saffron threads in a small pan in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until brittle; this will make the saffron easier to grind. Grind the toasted saffron threads into dust in a mortar with a pestle. Dissolve the saffron in the warm water.
Combine the egg yolks, yogurt, saffron, and salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Blend in the rice.
Melt 8 tablespoons of the butter in a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron pan. Add the rice mixture to the pan and pack down firmly with a spatula. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and pour over the rice. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the rice cake from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes with a damp cloth on top. Invert onto a cutting board or platter and slice into wedges.