Chelo (Persian Steamed Rice)

3 cups basmati rice
8 cups   water
2 tblsp  salt
3/4 cup  melted butter
1/2 tsp  ground saffron, dissolved in 2 Tbsp. hot water
2 tblsp  yogurt  (optional)

Wash rice 5 times in cold water. 
Bring water and salt to boil in a large non-stick pan. 
Add washed and drained rice.  Boil 6 minutes, stirring gently twice to loosen grains that may have stuck to bottom.
Drain rice in colander and rinse in lukewarm water.
In same pot, heat half the butter, 2 Tbsp.  hot water, a drop of dissolved saffron, and yogurt. 
Taking one spatula at a time, place rice gently in pot mounding in the shape of a pyramid or dome.
Dissolve remaining butter in 2 Tbsp.  hot water and pour over rice.
Place clean dishtowel over pot and cover firmly with lid to prevent steam from escaping. 
Cook 10 minutes over medium heat and 50 minutes over low heat. 
Remove from heat. Allow to cool 5 minutes on a damp surface without removing lid. 
Put 2 Tbsp.  of the rice in with remaining saffron and set aside for garnish.
Gently remove rice from pot without disturbing crust. 
Sprinkle saffron flavored rice over top and serve. 
Detach crust and serve separately.
Note: —– I am giving the detailed instructions.  I don’t use the yogurt and I drizzle the remaining saffron over *all* the rice.  I also serve the tah dig (crust) with the rest of the rice.

Serve with Persian Quince Stew

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