Noranj Pilau / Rice with Candied Orange Peel, Saffron and Lamb
3 lbs lamb leg or shank, cut into small pieces (with bones)
1 large onion, diced
3 cups water
3-5 sour oranges for zest (or 1.5 cups orange zest + 1 Tbsp lemon juice)
4 cups long grain Basmati rice, uncooked
1.5 cups white granulated sugar
½ g Herati Saffron
1 and ½ tsp ground Cloud Forest Cardamom, divided
½ cup water
½ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
In a saucepan, simmer lamb leg with chopped onion and water over a low flame until tender, about 1 hour. The lamb should be only partially submerged in the water so it steams as it cooks. Use a large pot that will fit the rice.
Wash oranges well.
Peel oranges with a vegetable peeler, with as little of the white pith as possible.
Slice or julienne peels into very thin strips, around 1.5 inches long.
Put the julienned peels in a pot of water and bring to a boil for ~15 minutes.
Drain the water, replace and repeat boiling twice, until peels have lost most of their bitterness.
Drain the water and add ½ cup water, sugar, saffron and ½ tsp cardamom (and lemon juice if using) to the orange peels.
Cook over medium heat until water is mostly evaporated and the sugar has formed a syrup, but before it begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
Remove the orange peels from the pot, leaving the syrup.
Wash rice, massaging gently to release starch without breaking grains.
Soak rice for 2+ hours.
Bring a large pot of water (3+ quarts) to a boil.
Add soaked rice to the boiling water and cook for 5-7 minutes, until just barely soft.
Drain the rice into a colander to remove the water, and add all but 1 cup back into the same pot with cooked lamb and 1 tsp cardamom. Mound the rice mixture in the middle of the pot away from the edges and poke holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon for steam to escape.
Put a clean fabric or paper towel across the top of the pot and put the lid on it to hold the towel in place.
Put the pot on a very low burner and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.
At the same time, add 1 cup reserved cooked rice into the pot holding the remaining orange syrup, cover and simmer until rice is fully cooked, about 10 minutes.
When the rice with lamb is fully cooked, plate carefully on a large platter.
Add rice cooked in orange syrup on top.
Add a layer of candied orange peel on top of the rice.
Garnish with toasted pistachios and serve.