It's Christmas! Happy holidays to everybody who is celebrating- I think we all need a well deserved break to take some time out and show appreciation to the people we love. I decided to get in to the festive spirit of things by creating jewelled rice. The "jewelled" term comes from the ingredients (saffron, pomegranate and almonds), not the cooking process. t's a great alternative to boring pilau rice and the crunchy toasted almonds with pomegranates makes it tasty enough to have with a meat dish or on it's own. If you're accustomed to making pilau rice, then please change the steps according to your preference.
Prep+cooking time: 1hr 30mins
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 aloo bukhara (dried plum, available in most Indian grocers)
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 tsp saffron strands, soaked in 500ml boiling water
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- 1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- grated zest of 1/2 a lime (alternatively add a teaspoon of lemon juice)
- 1 cup pomegranate, washed and drained
- 1 green onion, finely sliced
- 1 grated carrot
1) In a large skillet, lightly toast almonds over a medium heat, transfer to a bowl and leave to one side for later.
2) In a large pan, boil water and add a pinch of salt before adding washed basmati rice and par-boil for 10 minutes.
3) Drain the par-boiled rice, place in a bowl and reserve some of the water in a jug. Add several strands of saffron and and leave aside. It will dye the water a strong yellow. Alternatively, you can just use a pinch of turmeric instead, but since this was a luxurious rice, I decided to go all out!
4) Clean the pan you have been using so it is dry. Over a medium heat, add vegetable oil and ghee. The oil will protect the ghee from burning but you still have to be careful- butter is the easiest thing to burn! Stir in the caraway seeds, aloo bokhara, star anise, a pinch of salt and onions. Allow this to sweat for 5 minutes with the lid on. Add the remaining spices and allow to sizzle for a further 5 minutes.
5) Pour in the par-boiled rice, grated carrot and a little saffron laced water at a time until the rice is almost covered- remember it is half cooked so won't need as much water as you think. Cook with the lid on for 20 minutes. Create pockets for the steam to escape and cook with the lid off. Lower the heat and only stir the top layers as the bottom will burn slightly no matter what you do and you don't want to spread charcoal grains throughout your rice.
6) Once the rice is cooked, garnish with toasted almonds, green onion and pomegranate before serving. If the rice is too sticky for your liking, add a light drizzle of olive oil which should help it separate.