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Recipe for Festive rice pilaf
11:46am Saturday 24th December 2011 in Too Many Cooks
Lucy Potter offers a festive dish full of Middle Eastern promise
ALTHOUGH not traditional Christmas fare, this rice dish is brimming with festive flavours.
As it cooks, the evocative scents of cinnamon, cloves, allspice and orange zest perfume the air. And with ruby-red pomegranate seeds and vivid green herbs, the finished dish certainly looks the part as well.
Both the method and ingredients of this recipe are inspired by Middle-Eastern cuisine. The use of aromatic spices, toasted nuts, dried fruit and jewel-like pomegranates make the popular dishes of this region positively sing with seasonal sparkle.
This pilaf could be served as it is, perhaps with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a crunchy winter salad on the side. After Christmas, it could also be padded out with shredded leftover turkey.
The basic idea also works well as a cold rice salad – simply stir the fruit, nuts, herbs and zest into your cooked rice, season well and dress with walnut oil and fresh orange juice.
A bowl of this bejewelled rice is perfect for a Boxing Day spread.
Festive rice pilaf
Ingredients: (serves four)
200g basmati and wild rice
1 large onion – chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
4 cardamom pods
3 allspice berries
Zest of 1 orange
350ml hot water
2 large handfuls of mixed nuts – lightly toasted (eg. pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans or flaked almonds)
Seeds of half a large pomegranate
Handful of dried cranberries
Large handful of fresh coriander – roughly chopped
Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse until the water runs clear.
Heat olive oil in a wide non-stick pan. Add the whole spices and chopped onion. Season and cook gently for five minutes. Stir in the drained rice and stir to coat in the flavoured oil. Let the rice toast for a minute.
Pour in the water – it should cover the rice by about 1cm. Stir and bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer.
Cover tightly and simmer for ten minutes. Turn off the heat without removing the lid and leave for a further ten minutes. Now uncover, pick out the spices and fluff up the grains with a fork.
Stir in the dried cranberries and a squeeze of orange juice. Taste and season again if needed.
Finally stir in the fresh coriander, toasted nuts and pomegranate jewels.
Take to the table in the pan, or tip out on to a big platter to serve.