Prepared with a crispy, saffron-tinged potato tahdig, this reshteh polo is a fragrant rice and noodle dish served at Nowruz for either lunch or dinner.
Place rice in a medium bowl and cover with tepid water. Gently swish it around with your finger to activate the starches, then tip the bowl to drain water. Repeat this process until water runs clear, about 7 rinses. Cover rice with cold water, add 1/2 tablespoon salt, stir gently, and soak for 1 hour. Drain rice without rinsing.
Crush saffron threads to a powder in a small mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl with 2 tablespoons boiling water. Stir, cover, and set saffron water aside.
Fill a 5-quart nonstick pot with 9 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons salt and stir until dissolved. Break roasted noodles into thirds and add to the boiling water with the rice. Stir once gently, and watch carefully as it cooks so water does not boil over. Taste water for salt and adjust accordingly. Cook until the first rice grain pops up to the surface. Set a timer for 4 minutes and cook, scooping off any foam from the surface, until the timer goes off. Test rice and continue to cook until tender on the outside but still firm to the bite on the inside, 6 to 8 minutes more.
Drain rice and noodles in a colander and rinse quickly with lukewarm water and a spray faucet to rinse off extra starch. Taste and gently rinse again if too salty. Set aside to drain completely. Wash and dry the pot.
Place the clean pot over medium heat. Add oil, 1 tablespoon saffron water, and a pinch of salt; swirl the pot until the bottom and lower sides are coated with the oil mixture. Tightly overlap potato slices in a single layer covering the bottom of the pot to create the tahdig layer.
Gently scatter rice-noodle mixture over the tahdig in a pyramid shape, making sure potatoes are completely covered and moving noodles away from the sides of the pot. Gently poke the handle of a wooden spoon into the rice and noodles a few times, being careful not to hit the tahdig; this will allow steam to escape while cooking. Cover and cook until you see steam escaping from the sides of the lid and tahdig starts to set, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup boiling water with 2 tablespoons melted butter and remaining saffron water. Lay a kitchen towel out on a heatproof surface.
Test the tahdig by quickly tapping the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. When the pot sizzles, remove it from the heat. Remove the lid and place it on the kitchen towel, being careful that none of the condensation drips into the pot. Wrap the towel around the lid and secure the ends at the top by the handle so they will not hang near the heat source. Drizzle the butter mixture over the rice and cover with the towel-wrapped lid.
Place a heat diffuser on a burner over low or medium-low heat and return the pot to the stove. Cook until crispy, rotating the pot a few times, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and place on a damp kitchen towel; let sit, uncovered, for 5 minutes so tahdig will release easily.
Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add dates, raisins, and cinnamon; sprinkle with a little salt. Cook and stir until dates are glistening and soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
Gently scatter rice on a platter and remove potato tahdig pieces and serve on the side. Sprinkle raisin-date sauce over top.
0.5 (8 ounce) package roasted
Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 medium, sliced into quarter rounds
2 tablespoons, melted
0.5 cup golden, rinsed and drained
3.5 tablespoons, divided
6 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered