I have a recipe for you today that was given to me by my cousin, which I love and I think you will too. This is a tomato lovers’ treat; it is called Kateh Gojeh Farangi, which translates to “Tomato Rice.” Gojeh farangi means tomato, and Kateh is a type of quick Persian rice. Large, juicy tomatoes are used in this mixed vegetarian rice dish. The ripe tomtaoes are pureed with spices and make up almost all of the liquid that is required to cook the rice.
In addition to Gojeh Farangi (tomatoes), sweet colorful peppers and fried onions are added to this dish to make Kateh Gojeh Farangi very delicious with festive colors. Though canned tomatoes make an adequate substitute, cooking with fresh juicy Big Boy or Beefsteak Tomatoes makes this vegetarian rice dish even healthier with the added pleasant fresh tomato flavor that is unbeatable.
Only a minimal amount of water is added to Kateh Gojeh Farangi, and this is very different from my recipe for Persian Steamed Rice or other Kateh recipes. Kateh in general is cooked and steamed using somewhat of a different technique than the Persian Steamed Rice. The steamed rice is called “Polo,” and the directions call for partially cooking the rice in salt water, then rinsing and draining it under cold water. Then this rice is steamed. For the complete instructions for cooking the Persian Steamed Rice please click here.
The difference between “Polo” and Kateh is that the liquid, oil and salt in the Kateh are precisely measured at the beginning according to how much rice is used in the recipe. In Kateh method the rice is boiled in the water until all of the water is cooked off and the rice is steamed.
The TahDig (the layer in the bottom of rice) is the best part in this dish. The TahDig in a typical Kateh is the layer of rice that turns crispy and golden while the Kateh is steaming. In the Kateh Gojeh Farangi after the rice partially cooks in the flavorful tomato puree, it is taken out of the pot and a layer of TahDig is placed in the bottom of the pot before putting the rice back in. The TahDig layer can be flat Lavash bread, thin slices of potato, or flour tortilla. This TahDig layer gets a lot of flavor from the tomato juice that is cooked into the rice. Also a light sprinkle of saffron is added to the bottom of the pot before steaming that makes it taste amazing. TahDig cooks into a crispy golden layer and the sides of the rice get crunchy and very tasty. I used whole wheat Lavash and it turned out crispy, flaky and so good. The regular Lavash (thin Persian bread) or flour tortilla will also work fine.
Large ripe Big Boy or Beefsteak tomatoes are best for this recipe because of how juicy they are and how tender the skin is. I added 2 1/4 pounds of ripe Beefsteaks to a high power blender, with seasoning, a little bit of water, and tomato paste and I ended up with 4 1/2 cups of very smooth tomato puree. In the event that you had to use a different kind of less juicy tomato, add enough water so you have 4 1/2 cups of tomato puree.
The tomato pure is added to a nonstick pot with rice and oil and is boiled a bit
I love to use colorful vegetables, so I have used sweet green, yellow, red and orange peppers. If you choose to use only one color, use green bell pepper; they taste just as amazing. The sliced peppers are cooked a bit with the rice, then fried onions are added, the pot is covered and the rice is cooked some more.
When the rice is almost tender but firm and most of the water has been cooked off, the Kateh mixture is transferred from the pot to a large baking sheet to cool off for about 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile some oil, butter and saffron is added to the same pot and heated
To make the TahDig, pieces of Lavash (thin Persian bread) or flour tortilla is arranged in the bottom of the pot in the hot oil, then all of the cooled rice is transferred back into the pot covering the entire surface of Lavash in an even layer. To steam the Kateh Gojeh Farangi, the lid is covered with Damkesh or a large kitchen towel. It is recommended to use a heat diffuser شعله پخش کن over the burner, if you have one. You may purchase a heat diffuser from most kitchen stores and it is helpful in browning the TahDig uniformly golden.
To serve, cut the Kateh into wedges with the point of a sharp knife through the very flaky TahDig. Kateh Gojeh Farangi is great by itself as a vegetarian meal. However it also makes a great side dish with grilled meats such as my Zesty Grilled Chicken Kabobs. We grilled some Jujeh Kabob (Grilled Saffron Chicken), and it was divine! Enjoy!
Steam time: About one hour
- 2 ¼ pounds ripe large tomatoes (such as Beefsteak or Big Boy Tomatoes), or 36 ounces of canned whole tomatoes with juice; adjust the salt to taste if using canned tomatoes
- ¼ cup water
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¾ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder
- 5 TBSP vegetable oil
- 2 cups uncooked basmati rice (I used 1 cup bastmati and 1 cup Jasmine rice)
- 2 cups combination of sliced bell peppers (green, red, orange, yellow)
- 5 ounces fried onions (1 large onion sliced thin and fried to golden brown)
- 3 TBSP butter
- 3 TBSP vegetable oil
- ⅛ tsp saffron powder (optional)
- Enough pieces of lavash (Persian flat bread) or flour tortilla to cover the bottom of the pot. I used whole wheat lavash
- Cut the tomatoes into large pieces and add to a high power blender. Add water, tomato paste, salt, turmeric, ground black pepper and ground cayenne pepper. Blend until very smooth. This tomato puree should measure 4½ cups; add more water if needed.
- Add the rice to a 5-QT nonstick stockpot, wash it under cold water and drain as much of the water as possible.
- Add the tomato puree to the pot. Add 5 TBSP vegetable oil. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
- Meanwhile slice the peppers to ¼ inch wide an d 1 ½ inch long slices. Once the rice and tomato mixture comes to a boil add the peppers. Cover the pot with the lid and continue cooking over medium heat for another 7 minute. Stir couple of times.
- Add the fried onions, stir to combine. Bring it to a boil, cover the pot again and cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, or until all the liquid is cooked off and the rice is partially cooked but still firm in the center.
- Transfer the rice mixture to a large baking sheet and use a spatula to spread it out and let the rice air and cool for 7-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile in the same stockpot add 3 TBSP butter, 3 TBSP vegetable oil and ⅛ tsp optional saffron powder. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture starts sizzling.
- Cover the bottom of the pot with pieces of Lavash (Persian flat bread) or flour tortilla. Remove from the heat.
- Use a spatula to transfer the rice to the stockpot and cover the lavash pieces. Continue adding the rest of the rice and level it evenly.
- Cover the lid of the stockpot with a Damkesh or a large kitchen towel. Cover the pot. Place a heat diffuser on the burner, if you have one. Place the stockpot over the heat diffuser and cook over medium low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flat bread looks crispy and golden when you gently move some of the rice aside and take a peek at the TahDig.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Place a round large platter over the stockpot. Use mittens to grab both the platter and the stockpot and invert the rice TahDig side up on the platter.
- Serve with Jujeh Kabob (Grilled Saffron Chicken) and grilled vegetables or just by itself and a Salad Shirazi for a vegetarian meal.