Persian jewelled rice

Persian jewelled rice

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  • 6 to 8
  • Easy
  • Fat conscious Meat-free Pescatarian
  • 20 minutes
  • 50 minutes
  • Woolworths Spier Peachy Chenin Blanc 2017


  • 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

Cooking Instructions

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 o 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
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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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