Dill – its slightly warm bitterness and taste of fennel, anise and celery, can transform things like bland white rice into celebratory masterpieces. While my youthful palate did not quite take to the dill flavor profile, I have certainly come to appreciate dill rice as an adult. If cooked to form a golden crust (aka hikaka (pronounced hick-ka-ka) in Arabic), it is brought to the table like a cake in true celebration. A hint of saffron adds to the fragrance of this rice and gives it its golden color.
It is possible to make the dill rice without hikaka or saffron, and you will often see it served that way. But if you have the time, forming hikaka on rice should not be a question. It is “the best part” of the rice and has been fought over at many, a Middle-Eastern table.
This crispy deliciousness of hikaka is so loved that even my husband (not Middle–Eastern) took it upon himself to learn and master the making of it. In fact, he has done so well that I am happy to say he was a major contributor to the making of this recipe (and to the consumption of it).
- 3 cups White Basmati Rice
- 1 large yellow onion chopped finely
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 12 oz Frozen Green Fava Beans (shelled) If you can’t find shelled, you can remove the outer casing by hand (or lima beans)
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- 1.5 cup fresh chopped dill
- 3 tsp Salt
- 1.25 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse rice in the colander with cold water.
- Sautee chopped onion in extra virgin olive oil, set aside
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 5 quart nonstick pot, then add rice, fava beans and salt and stir. Bring mixture back to a boil and continue to boil until water is fully absorbed (8-10 minutes).
- While the rice is cooking, crush the saffron threads in small bowl. Pour a 1/2 cup of hot water onto the crushed saffron and let it soak.
- Once rice is cooked, pour the mixture into a colander and stir in the dill and sauteed onions. Rinse and dry the 5 quart pot and put back on the stove.
- In a separate medium mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, half of the saffron water, and 2 cups of the cooked rice. Add this mixture to the empty pot.
- Add the remaining rice mixture in the colander back to the pot.
- Mix the remaining half of the saffron water with 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, then pour evenly over the rice.
- Cover the pot and put on medium heat for 8 minutes. Uncover and reduce heat to very low. Cook for another 30 minutes to form a nice crispy crust.
- Can serve one of two ways:Place your serving platter over the uncovered pot and in one sharp movement flip the pot over so that the rice comes out onto the platter in a cake-like form (see picture). ORScoop out the soft rice from the pot into a serving platter. Then, break up the hakaka at the bottom of the pot and place on serving platter around the soft rice.