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Golden Rice Crust

Rice Crust for Under Rice Pilaf

Azerbaijani rice pilafs prepared with the “drain-and-steam” technique are called by their general name, suzme plov, which literally means “drained pilaf.” The name stems directly from how the rice is prepared. Thoroughly washed and presoaked rice is par-boiled in salted water, then drained and heaped atop a gazmag, or crust, that turns golden as it cooks, then brightened with aromatic saffron, dotted with butter, and steamed until it is tender, elongated, and fluffy. Note that when meat takes the place of the crust, the pilaf is called dosheme plov, or layered pilaf.

When the pilaf is served, the crust is placed decoratively on top of it. It is somewhat crunchy, yet tender, too. There are many ways to prepare the crust. It can be made with par-cooked rice, or from butter dough, from lavash, and even from sliced potatoes! Here’s one variety – rice crust – which I think you will love! What you see in the picture is dilled rice pilaf accompanied with this particular type of crust.

Making Rice Crust

Golden Rice Crust (Duyu Gazmaghi)

Par-cooked rice mixed with yogurt and egg, infused with saffron, or, if not available, with turmeric powder, yields a golden and wonderfully tender crust. Note that this recipe yields a rather thin crust. But no worries, as it is not a hard one, but rather somewhat crunchy on the outside and tender inside. Sometimes, a thicker crust is made as well. Just double the amount of ingredients for a thicker crust. Note that these amounts are for a 9-inch (23-cm) wide pot, so adjust the ingredients if using a bigger pot for your pilaf.

Making Rice Crust

Directions

Follow the directions on how to presoak, par-cook, and drain the rice from here. Put a spatulaful (1 ½ cup) of the boiled and drained rice in a mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoonfuls plain yogurt or sour cream, 1 egg, and pinch of salt. Add 1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric and stir to mix. Instead of turmeric, you can also add saffron infusion (powder a pinch of saffron using a mortar and a pestle. Dissolve the powdered saffron in 1 tablespoon hot water in a small bowl or a cup. Let stand a few minute then add the saffron infusion to the rice-yogurt mixture.) Gently stir to mix the ingredients.

Making Rice Crust

Melt 3-4 tablespoons butter on the bottom of a 9-inch (23-cm) pot you will be steaming your rice in.

Using a slotted spoon, spread the mixture evenly over the melted butter on the bottom of the pan. Cook the crust, uncovered and without stirring, over low heat for a few minutes, to allow it to set slightly. Leave it as is and spoon the rice on top before steaming it. Or, for a an easier unmolding and better presentation, with a wooden spatula, cut the crust circle into wedges right in the pan before spooning the rice on top. To serve, unmold the crust wedges and arrange decoratively on top of the rice, golden side up.

Variation: Spiced Rice Crust

Prepare the rice crust as directed above, adding to the batter a generous pinch of coriander seeds crushed with a mortar and pestle, and a generous pinch of anise seeds. Sometimes, a pinch of powdered cardamom is also added to the mixture, for a more fragrant crust.

To learn how to steam the rice after the crust has been spread on the bottom of the pan, please refer to the recipe here.

Rice Crust for Under Rice Pilaf

17 Comments
  1. Awsome! Believe it or not, last time I was in Baku, I couldn’t find a single restaurant that would serve me a plov with gazmag! Now I can make my own, at least.

  2. We make pilaf/ pulao a lot in India too but I’ve never seen the crust made and served like this. Must try it next, because I know there will be fights for that bit of crust! :)

  3. FLORIAN – You have the recipe now, you can show those restaurants:) I am surprised none served it though. Try the spiced crust – so good!

    APARNA – Enjoy!

  4. I have had this type of rice dish at the home of a Persian friend. I love how tender and wonderful the rice tastes. The crust for me is an acquired thing though :) One time she made it with sliced potatoes as the crust. Now that crust I enjoyed :)

  5. CYNTHIA – Yes, it is pretty much the same rice pilaf and crust in Persian cuisine as well. We use sliced potato for crust as well:) It is the easiest way:)

  6. This is really interesting and looks delicious!

  7. I have tried to do this so many times and it’s never worked! When I lived in Azerbaijan, my host mother taught me to make plov, but kind of skipped over how to make the crust. Thanks for this!

  8. I have discovered this blog – and I have to admit that I don’t know about the azerbaijan way to eat or about any of its dishes. Therefore I will go explore your page and I am sure I find very interesting recipes that I can try :)

    Thanks for sharing
    All the best from Germany
    – Annika

  9. FRIENDS, thank you for your lovely comments. Enjoy making rice with this crust!

  10. Hi Feride, I tried gazmag the other day and it was delicious! Wanted to thank you once again for your recipes that are so easy to follow. Keep up good work!

  11. RENA – So glad you tried it! Nush olsun!

  12. Hi Feride, I must thank you for your simit recipe, which I tried at home after falling in love with it during my recent trip to Istanbul. They tastes awesome, and I posted it too on my blog, with link to you for the original recipe. Thanks a lot,and check out my simit if you have time:-)

  13. JEHANNE – Thank you for trying the recipe. Off to check out your simit:)

  14. This is one of the most loved features of Azeri pilaf according to my friends trying it for the first time (foreigners). So yeah, make sure you enjoy this delicious gazmag!

  15. Salam Farida! Thank you so so much for this recipe. Pilaf is my hubby’s favorite Azeri dish and I make it all the time. We love all varieties of pilaf. But I’ve never tried making rice gazmag, since both mine and my hubby’s families preferred the common dough gazmag. For sure, the next time I make pilaf I am going to use your recipe for rice crust. Thank you!

  16. Thank you so much Farida! I made pilaf today and used your recipe for rice crust. It turned out amazing! We all loved it! I used yogurt today. Next time I am going to try to make it with sour cream. Thank you!

  17. METIN AMIROFF – Enjoy!:)

    KAMILA JAVANSHIR – So glad you tried it! Thank you.

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