KATA

a simple, everyday rice dish characteristic for the Caspian provinces, Gilan and Mazanderan.

 

KATA (kateh), a simple, everyday rice dish characteristic for the Caspian provinces, Gilan and Mazanderan. It is prepared by combining all the ingredients (rice, two cups of water for every cup of rice, butter, and salt) and boiling over medium heat; the rice is not soaked previously.  When the water is absorbed, the heat is reduced and the pot covered to let the rice simmer until it is fully cooked. Without a further step of being steamed, the rice  is turned out into a dish and can be shaped into loaf form (kata-qālebi). (For additional details regarding the varieties of rice used and preparation, see BERENJ i. IN IRAN and iii. IN COOKING; GILĀN xxi. COOKING; Batmanglij, p. 97). Kateh is usually softer than polow (soaked rice cooked together with other ingredients, then steamed; for preparation and varieties of dishes, see BERENJ i). At a main meal, kata may be served with meat or fish or a stew (ḵoreš). Kateh may be served plain (kata-sefid “white”; kata-sāda “plain” in Montaẓami, pp. 789-91), and cold kata (kata-sard) is usually cut into lozenges and served as a side dish (Dehḵodā, s.v., on kata-ye rašti “Rasht-style” in Gilan), as an alternative to čelow (pre-soaked, steamed rice, served plain). Kateh may also be mixed with additional ingredients, pre-cooked or cooked in the rice, to make a dami  (see below and DAMPOḴT[AK]). 

References to kata appear from at least the Qajar period, distinguishing  it from similar dishes using steamed rice, that is čelow/čelāv and polow/polāv (on which, see BERENJ i). But it has sometimes been described with those familiar terms (e.g., kata equated with ḵoška-polāv, rice cooked without butter, in Dehḵodā, s.vv.). The chef at the royal court of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah Qājār (r. 1848-96) records kata and čelow as two dishes which have the same ingredients and the same preparation, except that, for čelow, the rice is steamed after cookng is completed; for kata, the rice is simply taken off the stove, allowed to cool, and then cut with a knife (Mirzā ʿAli-Akbar Khan Āšpaz-bāši, pp. 7-8; cf. the dish kata-čelow, mentioned p. 9). The French adventurer and Persian civil servant Rišār Khan (Jules Richard, 1816-91), in his book on Persian cuisine (p. 50), calls plain kata by the name kata-polow (also cited in Dehḵodā, s.v.). A 1933 description of kata defines it as the loaf form, polow-qālebi (Bāmdād, pp. 19-20; also Dastur-e ṭabbāḵi, p. 62).

The term dami likewise is attested in the late 19th century (see DAMPOḴT[AK]). As in the case of polow, which it parallels (see BERENJ i), the dami has many varieties, which are designated by the principal added ingredient (Daryābandari, pp. 839-59). Damis with grains include dami-ʿadasi (lentil), dami-bāqelā (fava bean), dami-māš (mung bean), dami-lubiā-qermez (kidney bean), and dami-lubiā-češm-bolboli (black-eyed pea). Popular vegetable damis are dami-esfenāj (spinach), dami-toršak (sorrel), dami-kalam (cabbage), dami-havij (carrot), dami-gešniz (coriander), and dami-šebet (dill). Meat damis are cooked particularly with ground lamb or beef mixed with tomato paste. Varieties with dried plums and with raisins also are described in the 1933 source (Bāmdād, pp. 19-20).

 

 

Bibliography

Mīrzā ʿAlī-Akbar Khan Āšpazbāši Kāšāni, Sofra-ye aṭʿema, facs. ed., Tehran, 1353 Š./1974.

Badr-al-Moluk Bāmdād, Ṭabbāḵi-e irāni o torki o farangi Tehran, 1933.

Najmieh Batmanglij, Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, 4th ed., Washington, D.C.,  2011. 

Najaf Daryābandari, Ketāb-e mostaṭab-e āšpazi, az sir tā piāz,Tehran, 2000. 

Dastur-e ṭabbāḵi, Tehran, 1952.

Rozā Montaẓami, Honar-e āšpazi, 39th ed., Tehran, 2001.

Musiu Rišār Khan Moʾaddeb-al-Molk, Ṭabk-e irāni o farangi o širini-pazi, Tehran, 1932.

(Etrat Elahi and EIr)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: March 22, 2013