While this dish is somewhat time-consuming, the end result is fragrant, fluffy rice with a surprise buttery, crunchy bottom--which is the best part. We don't recommend substituting dry herbs for fresh in this recipe.
3 cups uncooked basmati rice
8 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron
4 tablespoons hot water, divided
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh dill (about 3 [1-ounce] packages)
1 cup chopped fresh parsley (2 bunches)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (2 bunches)
2/3 cup butter, melted
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
How to Make It
Place rice in a large colander, and rinse until water runs clear. Combine rice, 8 cups water, and salt, and soak 2 hours. Drain, pouring salted water into a large nonstick Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, and add rice. Return to a boil, and cook 6 minutes, gently stirring twice to keep rice from sticking to bottom of Dutch oven. Drain rice; rinse with warm water.
Dissolve saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water. Set aside.
Combine green onions and next 3 ingredients in a bowl.
Add half of melted butter to nonstick Dutch oven. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon saffron mixture. Spoon about 1 cup rice over butter; top with about 1/2 cup green onion mixture, and top with garlic cloves. Repeat layers with remaining rice and green onion mixture, forming a cone shape. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and drizzle with remaining half of butter, remaining 1 tablespoon saffron mixture, and remaining 2 tablespoons hot water.
Place a clean cotton dish towel over Dutch oven (make sure it doesn't touch the burner), and cover firmly with lid to prevent steam from escaping. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes; reduce heat to low, and cook 50 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool 5 minutes.
Scoop rice, using a spatula, onto the center of an oval serving platter, leaving the crisp bottom intact. Gently lift crisp bottom layer with spatula, and serve on a separate plate, or crumble over rice on serving platter.
Quick-Cook Rice With Fresh Herbs: Rinse and soak rice as directed. Boil rice in salted water 12 minutes. Layer rice and herbs in cone shape in Dutch oven as directed. Cover with a cotton dish towel and lid. Cook over high heat 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and proceed as directed. (The bottom will not be as crusty as it is using the original method.)