Cover the dried orange peel in water. Before you go to bed, drain the water and cover it with fresh water to let it soak over night. The next morning drain the water and cover them with fresh water once more to let it soak until you start preparing Havij Polo.
Wash the rice until the water almost runs clear.
Bring 5 cups/1.2l of water together with 1 tbsp of salt to boil in a pan. Once boiling, add the rice to it and keep the temperatures high to bring it back to boiling again.
Let the rice parboil for 3 to 7 minutes. The exact time varies from brand to brand. I recommend removing a rice corn for every minute or so to see if it is half cooked. Split it in half with your fingernail. The outside should be cooked and soft, while the centre should still be firm.
Once the rice is parboiled to this stage, drain it in a strainer and rinse it thoroughly with cool water. This will interrupt the cooking process and wash off any excess salt.
Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 2 tbsp water to a coated pan and place it over medium heat.
This time I made tahdig-e noon (tahdig is the crispy part of the rice from the bottom of the pan, in this case heavenly bread tahdig). If you want to do the same, put a very thin type of bread like noon-e lavash in the bottom of the pan. Alternatively you could use a wheat tortilla.
Note: I prepare the carrots and orange peel later, because I want to arrange it on top of the rice when serving. You can however layer the rice with the carrots and orange peel now, so that all the ingredients will be combined when serving. If you prefer this method, jump to “prep the remaining ingredients for Havij Polo” and layer the rice with the caramelised carrots and orange peel along with the cinnamon.
Now add the rice to the pan, layer by layer, sprinkling every layer with a little cinnamon powder. The rice should be in a pyramid or heap shape. Poke a few holes in it with the back of a wooden spoon. This helps the moisture evaporate and allows the rice to cook evenly. Once you see steam rising from the rice, cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel, press it firmly on the pan and reduce the heat to low.
Let the rice steam for 45 min over low heat.
If you don’t have a poussin or want to serve more people, you can of course use a small chicken instead. The chicken should be cut in half though, so that it cooks in the same amount of time. I personally recommend buying chicken legs only in this case, because they are more juicy and this dish doesn’t have any sauce.
Season the poussin/chicken with salt and pepper. Fry it in 1/2 cup of vegetable oil over medium to high heat from all sides until golden brown and crispy. This should take about 15 minutes.
Then put on the the lid and reduce the temperature to low. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.
Peel the carrots and chop them in julienne size cuts. Let 1 tbsp butter melt in 1 tbsp vegetable oil and add the carrots along with 5 tsp of sugar. Gently fry the carrots for about 15 minutes.
Next fry the orange zest in 1 tbsp melted butter and 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Add 4 tbsp freshly boiled water alongside 3 tsp sugar and let them simmer while stirring regularly for about 20 minutes until caramelised.
Wet the tip of a kitchen towel and hold it against the side of the rice pan. If it makes a sound like ‘tssss’, your rice is ready.
Remove the lid and replace it with an upside down plate. Carefully flip the pan over. If the tahdig-e noon doesn’t come out of the pan easily, you can submerge the pan in a sink filled with a little cool water. This usually does the trick.
Transfer the tahdig onto a separate plate. Arrange the carrots and orange peel on the rice and sprinkle it with the slivered pistachios.
Serve it with the fried poussin or chicken. Enjoy!