Last Friday night was yet another dinner party with my friends, this time to celebrate a birthday. I didn’t want to turn up with some random dish so I did some investigation & found out that the main dish was going to be a Moroccan Kofte & Chorizo Stew, which I figured would need some sort of soakage & the first thing that popped into my mind was a recipe I fell in love with the very first time I read: Persian Rice. It’s from How to Feed Your Friends With Relish by Joanna Weinberg & I’ve wanted to make it ever since I bought the book, it just sounded so amazing. & boy did it live up to expectations! It was yummy & nutty & lemony (I LOVE lemon) & really flavorsome & it smelled so good, as well as beautifully accompanying the stew. The recipe feeds three, but it was really easy to scale up the quantities for the dinner party.
Here’s the recipe:
- vegetable oil
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, fined diced
- 25g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- 25g pistachios, roughly chopped
- 25g pine nuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4tsp saffron threads
- 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
- seeds of 10 cardamom pods, crushed
- pared zest of 1 lemon, cut into fine strips
- 225g basmati rice
- salt and pepper
1. Heat 1tbsp of vegetable oil and 30g of the butter in a frying pan & cook the onion gently for about 10-15 minutes, until it’s just beginning to caramelize. Meanwhile, toast the nuts in a dry pan, soak the saffron in 2tbsp of just-boiled water, & mix together the cinnamon and cardamom. When the onions are ready, pour on the saffron water, add the nuts, lemon strips and the cinnamon/cardamom mix, then remove from the heat.
2. Rice the rice thoroughly. Cook the rice vigorously for 5-6 minutes in a large saucepan of boiling water – the grains should be beginning to soften on the outside, but remain firm in the centre. Drain & rinse in cold water.
3. 20 minutes before you want to eat, heat 20ml of vegetable oil & the remaining 20g of butter in a small saucepan. When sizzling, spoon in a layer of rice. Cover with a layer of the nut mixture and some salt & pepper and continue layering until you have used everything.
4. Make three holes in the rice with a spoon handle and cover the pan with a lid. Leave over a high heat for 4 minutes to get the steam going, then cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.
5. Once it is ready, spoon out the loose rice onto a serving platter, then upend the pan and dig out as much of the crust as you can & lay it on top.