Side Servings

Persian jewelled rice

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6 to 8
20 minutes
50 minutes
Wine/Spirit Pairing
Woolworths Spier Peachy Chenin Blanc 2017

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  • 400 g basmati rice
  • 1⁄4 t saffron, soaked in 1⁄4 cup of boiling water
  • 40 g currants
  • 40 g dried cranberries
  • 65 g dried apricots
  • 90 g unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 90 g butter
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • A pinch ground cardamom
  • A pinch ground cumin
  • A pinch ground allspice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 40 g almond flakes
  • 40 g pistachios, roughly chopped

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Bring 3 litres of water to a boil and add 2 T salt. Stir in the rice and boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Drain well.

Pour boiling water over the dried fruit, then drain and set aside. Finely chop the apricots.

Gently soften the onion in 1 T butter until pale golden. Moisten with 1 T saffron water, then stir in the spices and a twist of pepper. Stir in the dried fruit.

Gently heat 60 g butter in a heavy, ovenproof casserole. Add half the parboiled rice, spreading it evenly. Cover with the spiced onion and fruit mixture. Top with the remaining rice. Leave over a gentle heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes to gently brown the rice. Do not stir.

Drizzle over the remaining saffron water, cover tightly and cook over a very gentle heat for 30 minutes without any interference. Turn off the heat and rest for 10 minutes.

Gently toast the nuts in the remaining butter until pale golden. Turn the rice onto a platter and sprinkle over the nuts.

Cook's note: Persian 'jewelled rice' is named for its gemstone colours - golden saffron, ruby cranberries, emerald pistachios and pearl-white almonds...

Some versions of this celebratory dish are more complex, adding caramelised carrots, orange peel and orange blossom water, but I find this recipe by chef, food writer and cookbook author David Tanis splendid enough.

Phillippa Cheifitz

Recipe by: Phillippa Cheifitz

Regular TASTE contributor Phillippa is a well-known South African author and food writer, and has won many awards, both for her magazine features and her cookbooks.

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