Macaroni mix, Iranian StylePosted: 25 May 2012
In Iran the most common type of pasta dish is made by steam-cooking macaroni, mixed with a thick meaty sauce. The method is basically the same as cooking mixed rice, or polow. Back in Shiraz, my mom, my sisters, and later myself used to make “macaroni” at least once a week for dinner, and I used to love it. For some reason, thought, I quite cooking it once I learned to cook pasta varieties served with sauce on the side. Just a couple of nights ago, I made a nostalgic “trip” and cooked Iranian style macaroni after what seems like ages! It turned so good that I thought it is worth sharing.
Ingredients (serves 3-4): Ground beef or veal, 300 grams. Macaroni pasta, or any type of medium to thick hollow noodles, 300 gr. Onion, 1 medium , thinly sliced. Tomato paste, ½ small can (4-5 tbsp.), dissolved in twice as much lukewarm water. Turmeric, 2 tea spoons. Olive oil, 4 tbsp. Salt and pepper to taste. Water. Optional: chopped parsley, 1 tbsp. Chopped bell pepper, 1 tbsp. Potato, 1 large, peeled, washed, and sliced in round shape for tahdig (bottom-of-the-pot).
Method: Warm 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, add onion and fry over medium heat until slightly golden. Add ground meat and fry for about ten minutes until brownish; stir constantly to separate the meat in smallest bits possible. Add turmeric, salt, pepper and continue frying for 1 more minute. If you choose to add chopped parsley and/or chopped bell pepper (in order to give the dish a bit of more colour), add them near the very end right after you fried your turmeric. Once everything is fried, add diluted tomato paste, mix well, and cover with a lid. Turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 minutes. Everything is already cooked really. This stage is only to ensure all tastes are completely mixed.
Use a large non stick pan and fill three quarter with cold water. Cover and bring to boil. Add spaghetti, a pinch of salt and ½ tbsp. of oil. Cook spaghetti until it is done at the core but not too soft, as spaghetti will be further cooked, or steamed cooked I should say. Drain and rinse with cold water once or twice or until starch is washed off.
Wash your pot thoroughly, and place it back on the stove burner until it is completely dry. Warm 2 tbsp. of oil, and cover the bottom with one layer of drained spaghetti. This is going to be your tahdig, remember!? Well this is some type of pasta tahdig, and if you manage to make it crunchy but not too thick or too hard, it will be really tasty. I personally prefer potato tahdig with this dish. So, once oil is hot enough I cover the bottom of the pot with thickly cut slices of potato, sprinkle some salt and then top it with spaghetti layer.
The mixing and steam cooking is exactly the same as mixed-rice or polow, only rice is replaced with spaghetti here. So, one layer of spaghetti and one layer of fried mixed meat till the end. Alternatively, after you placed the first layer of your spaghetti at the bottom, mix the meat ensemble and the remaining spaghetti right in the colander and pile them back to the pot all at once. Close the lid tightly and wait till you see or feel enough steam is accumulated in the pot. Warp the lid in a clean kitchen towel, put it back on and turn the head to minimum. Allow 30-45 minutes for steam cooking before serving.
To serve, briefly sit the pot in cold water, remove the lid and spoon the mix into a serving platter. Your tahdig, whether noodle or potatoes, should come off easily, hopefully golden and crunchy! Just remove them gently and place them in the same or separate platter. Some macaroni-for tahdig fans, cover the pot with a round serving platter and turn over the pot, so the macaroni mix comes off in one piece with tahdig on its top, just like a cake! 🙂