Wednesday, January 16, 2013

299. Iraqi Truffle Rice

Desert truffles differ from European truffles. They are still relatively expensive, but the difference is huge. A kilogram of desert truffles may average anywhere from $80 to $150, depending where and when you are buying it. European truffles can reach $2000 per kilogram. But the latter are so pungent that a few slivers from a single knob of truffle is aromatic enough to flavor an entire dish (usually foie gras and the sort). Desert truffles are less potent, and can be used as the actual main ingredient of a dish, sort of like really exquisite mushroom.

It is not uncommon to simply steam and eat them with a sprinkle of salt.
As a child, I remember hunting for them with Bedouin children, avidly searching for conspicuous cracks in the soil that might indicate a hidden truffle treasure.
In Iraq these desert truffles are named chima (شمة أو جمة), but they are generally known as fagi (فقع).
They are a wonder in themselves, because they have no root nor origin, and are completely wild, as it is impossible to cultivate. A true wonderous natural phenomenon that baffles modern-day science just as it did Aristotle thousands of years ago.
When cooking these truffles in rice, I choose to simply season with salt, as the truffles are aromatic enough as is and I didn't want to mask that with any spices. 


2 Tbsp oil
2 cups rice
1 onion
2 handfuls desert truffles
1 1/2 tsp salt


Rinse well and drain the rice; set aside.
Finely chop the onion.
Scrub the truffles with a bristle brush, then scrape with a sharp knife.
Rinse the truffles again to rid of any additional grit, then chop roughly

In a pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Saute the onion until soft, add the truffles and saute until starting to get golden brown.
Add the rice and salt, stir for 2 minutes.
Add enough boiling water to just cover the rice.
Give it a last stir, cover immediately and set the heat to low.
Let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the rice grains are soft and fluffy.
Uncover, fluff with a fork, transfer to the serving dish and serve.

 صحة و عافية

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