I have made no secret of my love for Middle Eastern food. It is one of the most vibrant and delicious cuisines out there. The use of fresh spices and herbs such as turmeric and coriander and the heat from the chillies and paprika make for the most wonderful of seasonings for good quality meat and vegetables. I love the use of chunky, fat aubergines all ready to soak up plenty of olive oil. I am also a big fan of the sweet and spicy taste that you often get with Middle Eastern food, for example by using dates or sultanans with chillies and vegetables in a Tagine. Or like this dish, Jewelled Rice, combining the salty pistachios, plenty of chilli and the sweetness from the sultanas and the bitterness from the cranberries.
A tagine is a regular dish in my home. It is quick and easy to make and can also be stored in the freezer – perfect for leftovers! I usually serve a simple Pilaf Rice on the side but when I want to spend a little more time in the kitchen and really make use of all those wonderful flavours then a Jewelled Rice is my go to dish. My husband always comments that this is a cuisine I not only smile from start to finish when cooking it, but also when eating it and this Persian rice recipe is my favourite out of them all! I love the aromas that fill my kitchen. I slow cook the onions with a little butter so that they are soft and caramelised. I lightly spice the pan with some turmeric and cumin before tipping in some cooked basmatic rice and making sure that the rice is coated with all the spices. The key to this dish is getting the edges of the rice nice and crispy. I love nothing more than serving this rice piled high and I am the first to scoop up those crispy bits.
I like to serve this Jewelled Rice with some Pistachio and Pomegranate Roast Chicken. It is a feast, and a feast that is worth celebrating!
- 400g basmati rice (cooked according to packet instructions)
- 2 tspn turmeric
- 1 tspn cumin
- 1 red chilli (finely sliced)
- 1 green chilli (finely sliced)
- 2 medium onions (finely sliced)
- 45g pistachios (shells removed if in them and crushed)
- 45g whole almonds (ready to eat, crushed)
- 50g sultanas (soaked in boiling water for around 1 hour)
- 45g cranberries
- (Optional) Saffron threads (1-2 threads)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- Small bunch fresh coriander (finely chopped)
- 2 tbpsn pomegranate seeds
- Salt/ Black Pepper
- 3 cardamom seeds
- Juice of half a lemon.
- Cook the rice with the cardamom seeds.
- Heat a small slice of butter in a large/ deep frying pan. Once hot add the onions. Cook on a gentle heat for around 20 mins until soft, brown and almost caramelised.
- Add the turmeric, cumin and garlic to the onions and mix well. Add the rice to the pan and then mix well with all the spices.
- Drain the sultanas and add them to the rice pan with the cranberries, chilli, pistachios and almonds. Carefully mix the rice and turn over in the pan so that everything is well combined. Season with a little black pepper and salt and if needed.
- Make a little well in the middle of the pan by pushing the rice to the sides. Then add another slice of butter in the middle of the pan. Once hot mix the rice again and then flatten everything so that it is pushed to the bottom and sides of the pan. Leave to cook for around 5 mins and then give the rice another mix and repeat so that other bits of the rice get nice and crispy.
- Stir in the fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with some pomegranate seeds. Serve right away.