Saffron Speckled Rice with Cranberries, Herbs & Pistachio
This rice dish of the Persian Jewish community is a celebration dish often served at weddings. The original recipe included candied orange peel, sour cherries, cranberries and almonds. I have modified somewhat and used cranberries. You could also substitute sliced dried apricots, or even chopped dates if you want to emphasize sweetness. Another less sweet substitute would be currants soaked in a little lemon juice. I absolutely love the technique to achieve the speckled nature of the rice. Instead of one solid white or yellow-orange rice – we are left with a speckled pattern – so pretty to see and taste!
- 2½ Tb unsalted butter
- 2 C basmati rice, rinsed under cold water and drained well
- 2 1/3 C boiling water
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- ¼ C dried cranberries
- 2 Tb coarsely chopped dill
- 4 tsp coarsely chopped parsley
- 1½ tsp coarsely chopped tarragon
- ½ C slivered or coarsely chopped, toasted unsalted pistachios
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the rice, making sure the grains are well coated in the butter. Add the boiling water, 1 tsp salt and some white pepper. Mix well, cover with a tight fitting lid, and leave to cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. Do not be tempted to uncover the pan; you’ll need to allow the rice to steam properly.
To make saffron water, take 1 tsp saffron threads, add 3 Tb boiling water, and let soak for 30 minutes. Remove the rice pan from the heat, all of the water will be absorbed – and pour the saffron water over one side of the rice, covering about one-quarter of the surface and leaving the majority of it white. Cover the pan immediately with a tea towel and reseal tightly with the lid. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.
|Making the saffron water|
Use a large spoon to remove the white part of the rice into a larger mixing bowl and fluff it up with a fork. Submerge cranberries in boiling water for a few minutes to plump them. Then drain the cranberries, add pinch of sugar and stir them in, followed by the herbs and most of the pistachios, leaving a few for garnish. Mix well.
|Pistachios, tarragon, parsley and dill|
Fluff the saffron rice with a fork and gently fold it into the white rice. Don’t over mix – you do not want the white grains to be stained by the yellow. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer the rice to a shallow serving bowl and scatter the remaining pistachios on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.