Persian bejewelled rice

Serves 12

1kg basmati rice
100g pistachio slivers
100g almond slivers
100g barberries
70g sour orange peel
250g caster sugar
200g salted butter
4 tbsp oil
Maldon salt to taste

In a large pan (with a lid) of boiling water over a medium/high heat, boil the rice for 8 minutes and then drain and wash thoroughly under cold water for a few minutes. Drain and shake off as much excess water as possible.

Reduce the heat under the pan to an ultra-low flame on gas and just low on electric cookers. If your pan is not non-stick, line the bottom with baking/oven paper – just enough to cover the base. Add 2 of your tablespoons of oil and 50g butter as well as a generous sprinkling of crushed Maldon sea salt, then gently scatter the drained rice back into the pan (so as not to compress the rice and allow steam to rise).

Scatter the rice in a way that it ends up forming a raised peak, like a mountain top. Then wrap your pan’s lid in a tea towel to help keep in steam whilst cooking and place it on the pan and allow rice to cook for around an hour. Check the rice and ensure that all the grains, right to the top, are steamed, fluffy and white. If the top grains look more solid and still opaque, replace lid and steam for longer. Turn off heat once cooked.

In a large frying pan over a high heat, add the butter and all the nuts, barberries and orange peel and stir thoroughly and quickly, adding the sugar also. Keep mixing it until the sugar and butter have both dissolved into the nut mixture and then reduce heat to ultra low.

Once rice is cooked, fill a large mixing bowl about 2/3 full with rice and stir in 5 heaped tablespoons of the nut and berry mixture and mix it through the rice – season with salt as desired. Repeat the process until all the rice has been mixed with your nut and berry mixture and serve.

Don’t forget that you will have a golden crust of rice left at the bottom of the pan! Peel away the oven paper and enjoy.

Delicious with Persian spiced citrus roasted poussins.

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