This traditional Persian dish is served often at weddings or large feasts so I thought it was a fitting holiday recommendation for your table. Whether it’s a new addition or perhaps even a replacement for your more typical dishes (such as stuffing), this rice dish is full of flavours both foreign and familiar.
The spices add a unique flavour to the dish, while the sweet jewels – the dried fruits – lend gorgeous colour, texture and sweetness. Instead of the usual saffron this dish calls for, I “cheated” with the more affordable and readily available colouring, turmeric. The colour is a beautiful contrast to other dishes on the table; however, in my opinion, it is not entirely necessary. Fittingly, the cranberries in this dish (to replace traditional barberries) draw the connection to pairing this dish perfectly with roast turkey or chicken, again, a perfect holiday dish.
Enjoy this refreshing change from plain or typical old fried rice and make it a new tradition on your holiday table.
• 2-1/2 cups basmati rice
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp allspice
• 1/4 tsp cumin
• 1/4 tsp cardamom
• 1/4 tsp turmeric
• 2/3 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water
• 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
• 1/2 cup golden raisins
• salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1. Wash the rice repeatedly, removing the excess starch, until the water is no longer cloudy.
2. In a pot, cover the rice with over an inch of water and bring to a boil, stirring for 2–3 minutes to parboil the rice, then drain.
3. Meanwhile, in a skillet sweat the onion in 2 tbsp of butter for 5–6 minutes until translucent.
4. Stir in the spices and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Mix in the dried fruit and stir thoroughly to incorporate, season thoroughly with salt and pepper, then remove from heat.
6. In a dutch oven (ideally enamel) melt 1/3 cup of butter on medium-medium high heat. Pour in half of the rice mixture, covering the bottom of the pan.
7. Pour the onion mixture over the rice, then cover with the rest of the rice.
8. Let this toast for 8–10 minutes until you smell a nutty aroma (do not stir or agitate the rice!). Be careful – of course – not to burn the rice.
9. Reduce the heat to low and cook for approximately 25–30 minutes, cooking the rice the rest of the way through.
10. To serve, scoop the rice onto a platter, cracking the crisp rice shell and including shards of it in the mix.
11. Serve hot, and if you wish, with toasted almond slivers and pistachios overtop.