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Categories: Sides, Vegetarian

Saffron rice

When the London restaurant Moro opened in 1997, I remember reading that to research Muslim Mediterranean cuisine, the chef-couple -- Samuel and Samantha Clark -- spent some months traveling around Spain and Morocco in an old camper van. They simply ... Read more

Total time: 30 minutes | Serves 4
Note: Adapted from "Moro" by Sam and Sam Clark. Dried barberries generally can be found at Middle Eastern markets. To make caramelized crispy onions, peel and halve an onion, and slice each half thinly. Slowly fry the onion in about 1 cup oil in a large saucepan or frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns a rich mahogany color. Strain on paper towels. The oil, now infused with the onion flavor, can be saved for other uses.
  • Scant 1 cup basmati rice
  • Sea salt
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
  • 3 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pistachio nuts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons barberries (optional)
  • 1 good pinch of saffron threads (about 100 threads) infused in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Caramelized crispy onions

Step 1Wash the basmati rice, then soak it for 3 hours in 2 cups of water salted with one-half teaspoon salt.

Step 2In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods and black peppercorns and gently fry the spices until their aromas start to be released, about 4 minutes.

Step 3Drain the rice well, add it to the pan and stir to coat for a minute. Increase the heat to medium-high. If you are using pistachios, barberries or both, stir them in now. Pour enough water over the rice to cover it roughly by half an inch, and season with one-half teaspoon salt.

Step 4Cut a round of parchment paper that will fit over the surface of the water, and place it in the pan. Place a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes, then lift the lid and paper off the pan and drizzle the saffron water evenly over the rice. Replace the paper and lid and continue to cook 4 to 5 minutes more until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.

Step 5While the rice is cooking, whisk together the yogurt with the crushed garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Step 6Serve the rice with the caramelized onions sprinkled over the top and the seasoned yogurt on the side.

Each serving:
514 calories; 7 grams protein; 44 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 34 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 50 mg. cholesterol; 526 mg. sodium.
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