Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

Rice with Hikaka

Rice with Hikaka

Rice with hikaka is a staple in our house. But, what is hikaka (pronounced hick-ka-ka in Arabic) you may ask? Hikaka is the delicious, crispy rice that forms at the bottom of a pot of cooked rice. When ready to serve the pot is flipped upside down revealing a beautiful golden cake with a perfectly crispy out layer and fluffy interior of rice. What’s not to love?

The basic premise of making hikaka is that by adding extra cooking fat (olive oil in the recipe below) the bottom layer of the rice gets fried, while the rest of the rice gets steamed. Hikaka can be made on any type of rice. Below is the concept of how to make it with white basmati rice, which is the most common rice to eat with different Arabic Stews/sauces (known as Marakah), such as basalia and ras asfour.

Persian rice often has hikaka, which they call it tahdig. Tahdig translates to “the bottom of the pot.” Very fitting, no? The best food is always at the bottom of the pot, rice included. It is no wonder that the Persian cookbook by Naz Deravian, “Bottom of the Pot” was given such a name.

 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.

Rice with Hikaka

Fluffy steam rice held together by a delicious thin layer of crispy fried rice is Rice with Hikaka. It is a treasured staple on many Middle Eastern tables.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups uncooked white long grain rice Basmati rice is recommended*
  • 2 tbsp olive oil**
  • tsp salt
  • water see instruction for amount of water to use

Instructions
 

  • Rinse rice 2-3x with water until water runs clear. This is to remove excess starch on the rice.
  • Heat oil in a medium size pot on medium heat
  • Add rice and salt and stir a few times
  • Add water to the pot so that rice is completely covered and about 1/2 inch of water is sitting above the rice
  • Allow to come to a rapid boil then cover and reduce to a simmer
  • Keep covered and let cook at simmer for 25 minutes
  • Remove cover and let cook for another 15 minutes
  • To serve, flip pot over onto a serving plate. This will reveal a rice cake with golden crust (aka "hikaka"). Enjoy!

Notes

*If you would prefer to use brown basmati rice instead of white, add a little more water  (3/4″ above rice instead of 1/2″) and longer cooking time (keep covered for 30 minutes instead of 25 minutes).    A crust will form, but it will not be quite as golden or crispy as with white rice.
**You can also use butter instead or a mix of butter and olive oil, any combination will render a fabulous hikaka.



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