Total Calories: 470
1. Place the rice in a large bowl and add cold water to cover by 3 inches. Swirl the rice around with your fingers until the water becomes cloudy, then pour through a strainer to drain. Repeat the process until the water remains clear. This will take 4 to 6 rinsings.
2. Place 8 cups of the water and the salt in a large shallow pot (preferably nonstick the pot should be 10 to 12 inches across and about 6 inches deep) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the rice, and cook, uncovered, at a brisk simmer for 6 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer, rinse under cool running water, and drain well. Wipe out and dry the rice pot with paper towels.
3. Meanwhile, place the saffron threads in a small bowl and grind to a fine powder with a pestle or the end of a wooden spoon. Add the 1 tablespoon warm water and let soak for 5 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the clarified butter, yogurt, and another 1/2 cup water and whisk to mix. Pour this mixture evenly over the bottom of the rice pot. Spoon a 1/2-inch layer of rice evenly over the yogurt mixture. Without disturbing this layer, add the remaining rice, mounding it toward the center. Sprinkle the top of the mound with the dissolved saffron mixture. Cover the pan and place it over medium heat for 8 minutes.
5. Remove the lid and sprinkle the rice with an additional 1/2 cup water. Reduce the heat to low. Wrap a clean kitchen towel around the pot lid, piling any excess cloth on top of the lid. (You want to keep the cloth away from the heat.) Place the cloth-covered lid over the rice and cook until the rice on top is tender and the rice on the bottom of the pot has formed a dark golden crust, about 40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes, and if you don’t see a crust, increase the heat slightly.
6. To serve, spoon the loose rice on top into a serving bowl, leaving the crusty rice at the bottom. Place a round platter over the pot. Invert the pot and give it a little shake. The crusty rice should slide out in a golden brown disk. Cut the crust into wedges and serve it next to the loose rice.
Note: To clarify butter, melt 1 cup (2 sticks) butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and pour off the golden liquid (the clarified butter) into a glass measure or heatproof jar discard the white milk solids that have settled in the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate any unused clarified butter for up to a month.
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