>Jewelled Persian Rice

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[Lo Jardinièr’s adaptation of a recipe in Diana Henry’s Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons]

for 4 people

1 large cup basmati rice

2 oranges

2 carrots

ground seeds of 10 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon brown sugar

30 grams roughly chopped pistachios

30 grams raisins

olive oil

seeds from 1 pomegranate

Wash the basmati rice in a sieve and leave to soak in a bowl of water.

Take thin shavings of peel from the oranges and cut into thin strips.  Boil in a cupful of water for 2 minutes and leave to cool.  Remove peel from the water, keeping both.

Peel the carrots and cut into matchsticks.  Sauter in oil for 4 minutes and add the ground cardamom seeds and cinnamon.  Add the sugar and orange peel and cook for 1 minute.  Add the pistachios and raisins or other dried fruit (vary the proportions to taste).  Take the pan off the heat.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the drained rice and cook for 5 minutes only.  Drain.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, eg. cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil (you can add some butter if you wish).  Cover with a layer of rice, then add a layer of orange and carrot.  Continue to build up layers, keeping some of the orange and carrot mix for a garnish later.  Pour on the cupful of orange water.

After the last layer cover the pan with a lid wrapped in a tea-towel to seal it and cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes, then gently for about 10 minutes.  Turn heat off but leave lid on for another 10 minutes.

Spoon the rice into a hot dish or leave in the pan.  Garnish with orange and carrot mix and pomegranate seeds.  The rice will have just burnt on to the bottom of the pan – this is supposed to happen and is considered a real treat.

 

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