Azerbaijani Yellow Rice


As Zemfira Ahmadov, from Baku, Azerbaijan, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, ME.

Serves: 10
Cooking Time: 1/2 hour active, 2 hours total
Note: The rice has a wonderful scent, flavor, and texture - individualized and firm - not soft or mushy. 
Perfect with: meat dishes such as Azerbaijani cornish hen, or Azerbaijani beef.


  • 3 c. basmati rice
  • large tortilla or potato sliced into 1/4 inch planks
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/3 c. ghee (a little less than a stick of butter's worth)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil


  • large pot with tightly fitting lid
  • clean cloth towel
  • strainer
  • small plate
  • large serving platter


1. Cover rice generously with water in a large bowl and massage rice to aid rinsing off white powder. Strain. Boil rice as you would pasta, for 8 minutes, and strain. It should be slightly uncooked and not yet fragrant or flavorful. Strain and let dry for 5-10 min.

2. Melt ghee in microwave or stovetop. Oil the bottom of a large pot and fit large tortilla in the bottom of the pot. With a small bowl or dessert plate take some of the rice out of the strainer and sprinkle it into the tortilla. Repeat, making a mountain of fluffed rice in the tortilla with the mountain peak in the middle of the pot.

3. Once you have a mountain of fluffed rice in the pot, sprinkle turmeric all over the top like the mountain is dusted with yellow snow.

4. Pour melted ghee in a small stream over the surface area of the rice mountain with a small drizzle as possible.

5. Cover the opening of the pot with two layers of paper towels or a clean cloth towel. Seal the lid over the towel, which keeps condensation from dripping back down into the rice. Fold edges of towel on top of lid so they don't dangle by any fire. Cook on low, setting 4 out of 10, for 1 1/2 hours.

6. Use a small dessert or salad plate to lift the rice out of the pot and toss the rice lightly onto a platter. The goal is for the rice to be fluffed onto the platter. 



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