Introducing Bubbie’s Kitchen!

The Y is thrilled to be launching “Bubbie’s Kitchen” on Sunday at our Purim Carnival! Generously sponsored by The Covenant Foundation, Bubbie’s Kitchen is an innovative program that uses food and stories to teach Jewish customs, values, traditions, and history from across the world. Stay tuned for more information about this new educational series!

We are extremely grateful to The Covenant Foundation‘s contribution and we are excited to the launch the program at our Purim Carnival on Sunday, March 20th. Our first stop on this tantalizing culinary and historical journey is Ancient Persia. Written in the Book of Esther”, the Purim story describes beautiful Esther, a Jew, who becomes queen by marrying King Achshveirosh. Learning about a plot against the Jews, the Jewish people seek help from Queen Esther. She’s able to convince the King to prevent their annihilation.

So that’s the story, but where does the food come in? Well, food plays a significant part in the narrative. To help her appeal to the King, Queen Esther (portrayed by Aert de Gelder in the painting to the right) prepares a feast that warms his heart, thereby gaining his fervent approval to rescue the Jews. There is no record of what kind of food was served that night, but it must have been amazing! We know that while Esther was queen she subsisted on a vegan diet and ate only fruits, legumes (beans, peas), and grains (rice). In honor of the brave and beautiful Queen Esther, we proudly share this delicious vegetarian recipe of Persian origin:

Persian Rice – Tahdig

This yummy vegetarian recipe serves 4-6 people.


  • 2 ½ cups long grain white basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water
  • ½ to ¾ cup chopped dried apricots
  • Salt
  • Water


  1. In a large bowl wash the rice with cool water a few times to get rid of the extra starch and pour the water out. Soak the rice in 8 cups of  cool water, add 3 tablespoons of salt and set aside for at least a couple of hours.
  2. In a large non-stick pot that has a tight fitting lid, bring 8 cups of water to a rapid boil on medium-high heat. 
  3. Drain the soaked rice and pour into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the grains are long soft on the outside and hard in the center. Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cool water a few times.
  4. Wash the rice pot with water and and return to heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of liquid saffron to the bottom of the pot, move the pan in a circular motion or use a wooden spoon to evenly cover the bottom with oil. 
  5. Remove from heat and with a large spatula return the parboiled rice back into the pot, building it into a pyramid shape away from the sides of the pot. 
  6. In order to release the steam make 4-5 holes in the rice with the handle of the wooden spatula. Place the pot back on the stove on medium-high heat, uncovered. 
  7. Wait about 7-10 minutes or until steam starts coming out of the pot. 
  8. Add dried apricots. Gently sprinkle a cup of water over the rice, cover, lower the heat and steam the rice for an hour. 

It is very customary to cover the lid with a kitchen towel or 2-3 layers of thick paper towels to prevent the moisture from going back in the pot. Nowadays, there are fabric lid coverings especially made for this purpose in Iran. We do recommend using it for making a perfect tahdig.

Learn more about Bubbie’s Kitchen.

About the Y
Established in 1917, the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood (the Y) is Northern Manhattan’s premier Jewish community center — serving an ethnically and socio-economically diverse constituency — improving the quality of life for people of all ages through critical social services and innovative programs in health, wellness, education, and social justice, while promoting diversity and inclusion, and caring for those in need.

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