A couple of weeks ago I was very bummed to find out that I had missed the Sour Cherry season where you actually get to go and pick them yourself. The reason why I was so bummed it was because I love Sour Cherries. As I wrote on my Sharbateh Albaloo post, it had been years since I had fresh Sour Cherries. Imagine my surprise when I walked into my regular Persian Market and saw a nice stack of boxes sitting there waiting and whispering my name. I looked at the price, took a double look and nearly fainted. Then I picked up a box and placed it in my basket and said “I the name of childhood memories and my blog I shall splurge today.” Then I handed the cashier my debit card and spent $7.99 of my husband’s hard earned money on Albaloo.
I couldn’t wait to get home and have a little taste! Oh how good they were, so nice and SOUR! I was so so excited because I knew exactly what I was going to do with the big box. There was not one ounce of doubt it my mind. I was a woman on a mission: I was going to make Albaloo Polow with fresh sour cherries and it was not going to be sweet. Period.
Here is the thing, I am not into food that is sweet. Nop, not me. As much as I love Albaloo Polow I never order it when going to restaurants because it seems like they always take Sour Cherry preserve, add some saffron to rice and mix it all together. The result is sweet, syrupy sweet. I am not down with syrupy sweet. Not me.
I consulted a few books for Albaloo Polow and then I walked into wait wait wait, here it comes, My Persian Kitchen, and took out my box of cherries from the fridge.
This was my first time making Albaloo Polow and I was pretty happy with the results. It was a delicious combination of tart and delicious Persian spices. I even got creative and made a chicken dish to go with the rice. I was pleasantly surprised that The Sous Chef really liked this dish as well. You see, there is a little bit of a battle going on in this house. The Sous Chef likes a very loud and strong explosion of flavors when eating food. I am all about the subtleness of flavors where you can actual taste the ingredients instead of just the spices that are used. This rice is exactly that, subtle in deliciousness. Each bite was filled with the tartness of the sour cherries and a combination of Advieh and saffron. I would say it was a delicate taste which is what I really enjoyed. It became even better with the juices from the chicken because it added yet another layer of flavor to it.
So here is the recipe.
5 cups of fresh sour cherries
1/3 cup of sugar
3 cups of basmati rice
4 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp + 1 tsp of Advieh
2 tbsp of yogurt
pinch of saffron
1 handful of slivered pistachios
Here is the most time consuming part of this recipe. But I promise you, it will be worth the effort and time. It makes such a huge huge huge difference in taste when using fresh sour cherries. Make sure all the sour cherries are pitted. You do not want a little surprise when chewing later on.
Place the pitted sour cherries in a pot, add the sugar on top. Give it a gentle stir and simmer on medium for 15 minutes.
Place a bowl under a colander. Place the cherries in the colander and let the juices drain.
Return the juices to the pot and let reduce for about 10 minutes. If the end result is jelly like, don’t worry. It is perfectly OK. Set the syrup aside.
Place 2 tbsp of butter in a sauce pan (you can use the same, just like I did if you want). Let it melt. Add 1 tbsp of advieh and give it an nice stir.
Turn off the flame and add the cherries mixing it well so that the cherries are coated with the butter and advieh.
In the mean time make your rice according to the Chelow recipe. Make sure that the water for the rice is well seasoned with salt. When making saffron for the tahdig reserve a little bit for later, I would say about 1 tsp.
Go ahead and built the first layer of rice with yogurt and saffron. Make sure that the bottom of your pan is covered with a thin layer of water and oil. Pour some rice on top.
Then place half of the sour cherries on top. Give it a gentle stir to mix the sour cherries with the rice. Repeat with the rest of the rice and cherries.
Always finish with a layer of rice and make sure that it is in the form of a pyramid. With the back of a spatula make some holes making sure that you stop before the bottom layer, where the rice and yogurt mixture is.
Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes.
In the mean time melt 2 tbsp of butter, mix in 1 tbsp of the syrup, the remaining saffron, and 1 tsp of advieh. Pour over the rice.
Cover the lid with a cloth and cook for 1 hour on medium low. When done place the rice in a platter and sprinkle the slivered pistachios on top.
Serve with Chicken with Sour Cherry Syrup.