Preparation / Directions:
For best results, soak the rice for a few hours in hot water and salt before cooking.
Wash and drain the vegetables. Using a cutting board and while repeatedly bunching up the vegetables, finely chop them.
In a medium size pot, half-way filled with water, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice (and the water it was soaking in), and let it cook for a few minutes until it starts boiling. Stir the rice a few times during the boiling process. Occasionally chew on a few of rice grains to see if they have softened.
Near the end of boiling, add the fresh chopped vegetables (if you are using dried vegetables do not add them in yet because they will get washed out). Stir the rice one last time and then take it out and drain it in a kitchen stringer. Run the tab water on it to wash out some of the excess salt.
Pour the oil in the pot, add 4 Oz of water, lay the lettuce leaves in the bottom of the pot and add a bit of extra oil if necessary. If you are using dried vegetables in place of fresh ones, you will have to mix them in as you are adding thin layers of rice in the pot, in the shape of a heap.
With the back of a spoon, make five holes, one in the center and four around it so that the rice can breath in the cooking process.
Spread a little water on top and close the lid. Let it cook for a few minutes on high heat. When steam starts to rise, change the setting to medium heat and let it cook for another 15-20 minutes. Then turn the heat to medium-low, sprinkle some cooking oil to prevent drying, and let it cook for about another 10-15 minutes before serving.
If you have a choice, use any of the Basmati brands of rice (AftAb, Pari, Gilda, Feel-Neshan, etc.) you can buy from middle eastern or Indian stores. But be careful not to overboil these types. They get pretty sticky if you over cook them. If all else fails, use Mahatma brand (American from supermarket). They take longer to soften, and there is less chance of coming out sticky. When putting lettuce leaves in the bottom of the pot for purpose of forming bottom crust (tah deeg), it is best to use a teflon coated or any other non stick pot for this purpose. In most cases, after cooking the rice in such pots, you can put a large round plate over the pot, flip it over and get the rice and the crust to come out in one piece.