2 cups Basmati rice, or substitute other uncooked long grain rice
7 cups water
1/4 teaspoon Saffron Threads, ground with a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice grinder
4 tablespoons melted butter
Freshly ground black pepper and a large pinch dried sumac (if available)
1 cup dried barberries or substitute dried gogi berries (optional)
1 teaspoon Rain’s Choice pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 – 1/3 cup coarsely chopped, toasted almonds or pistachios (optional)
Wash rice in a fine sieve or colander set under warm running water until the draining water runs clear. Place the rice in a large bowl or pot, add 1/4 cup of salt and enough cold water to cover it by about 1 inch and soak for about 2 hours.
Blend saffron with 2 tablespoons hot, but not boiling, water. Set aside to steep.
In a heavy 3-4 quart saucepan with tight fitting lid, bring 6 cups water to boil. Drain rice thoroughly and pour it into the boiling water in a slow, thin stream so the water does not stop boiling. Stir once or twice, then boil briskly, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a sieve.
Pour 1 cup of fresh water and the melted butter, black pepper, sumac, vanilla saffron and water into the saucepan and pour in the parboiled rice, mounding it slightly in the middle of the pan. Cover with a damp towel, then add the lid, and simmer over moderate to low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice grains are tender and have absorbed all the liquid in the pan.
If you are adding the saffron chicken to this dish, on a platter, scoop out 1/3 of the rice, then layer the chicken over it. Then place the balance of the rice onto the platter and scrape the tahig out, breaking it into pieces and scattering it over the top of the rice. Finally, add the berries and pistachios, if using, over the top of the rice. Decorate with fresh herbs if desired.