Fresh sour cherries are really hard to find in my city Montreal. This year however I was lucky enough to get my hands on a sour cherry farm in the suburb and hand pick them for one of my favorite Persian dishes of all times: albaloo polow, آلبالو پلو a beautiful summary rice mixed with tasty meatballs, sweetened sour cherries and topped with silvered pistachio and almond.
In my old hometown, Shiraz, my family used to buy loads of fresh cherries each summer to make jams, drinks, fruit rolls, dried fruits and of course many meals of sour cherries mix rice. Here is how this delicious dish is made:
Ingredients (serves 4-5)
- 700 gr. Fresh sour cherries washed and pitted.
- 400 gr. ground beef
- 1 medium onion, grated
- 200 gr. raw sugar
- 4 cups Basmati rice
- ¼ teaspoon saffron powder mixed with 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- Salt, black pepper, oil as required
- Silvered pistachio and almond, 1 tbsp. each (for garnish)
Wash the rice a few times and soak with 2 tbsp. salt for at least 4 hours
In a medium pot, mix pitted sour cherries with sugar. Place on medium heat till it comes to a soft boil. Turn the heat to minimum and cook for 30 minutes. Pass the contents through a colander. For the rice you would only need the cherries. But you could use the juice for Sharbat drink. (All you need to do is let the juice cool before bottling it and placing it in a fridge. Then mix it with water and ice and enjoy on hot summer days)
Mix the grated onion with ground meat, turmeric, salt and pepper. Use your hand and fingers (not a blender) to massage and mix them very well and make it into a large bowl. Take small portions off the large ball and make small balls. In a frying pan heat 1 tbsp. oil and fry the small meat balls till brownish. Put the frying pan aside.
Bring about three liters of water to a rolling boil in a big pot. Pour off the slated water from the top of your rice bowl and add the rice to the boiling water. Let the rice boil till it is tender under the bite. Drain in a fine-meshed colander. Wash the starch off the pot and put it back on the stove. Once it is completely dry, add 2 tbsp. oil then place either slices of potatoes, pieces of flat bread or simply a layer of rice. Add meatballs, cooked sour cherries, and white rice in layers, finishing with a layer of rice. With a spatula push the rice away from the sides of the pot scraping it up into a mound. Make three holes in the center of the mound. Turn the heat to minimum, close the lid and wait a few minutes to make sure you have lots of steam inside the pot. Now cover the lid in a paper towel and steam-cook for 45 minutes.
To serve, transfer a few tbsp. of rice from the top of the pot to a plate and mix it with the saffron liquid. Using the tip of the spatula gently mix small portions of the pot’s content and transfer to the serving dish. Top with the saffron mixed rice and slivered pistachio and almonds.
If you are feeling the heat of the summer this year, this Iranian sweet-sour refreshing drink is for you! Try it and you will know how a soft drink could feel like a bite with no mark!
Ingredients – serves 2
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