Summer, weather permitting, is all about picnics, and we had plenty of those this year making use of our local park. Whilst we had a few picnics comprising of mini sausages, sausage rolls and sandwiches we also took our main meals to enjoy outside. One big success of the summer included jewelled aromatic rice with walnuts and pomegranate based on the classic Persian dish, Javaher Polow which I served with chicken skewers and salad.
The lovely people at Amira rice sent me a hamper of goodies to recreate the dish using their superior aromatic rice. To be honest I have not really given too much thought about which basmati rice I use before but after experiencing the wonderful taste of this high quality grain rice I am converted! It is more expensive than supermarket brands but you can really notice the difference. The grains of rice are so long (my pictures really don’t do it justice) and apparently like wine, basmati must be aged for flavour and Amira‘s rice is aged for 12-18 months for optimum taste.
This recipe has quite a few stages but it is well worth the time it takes leaving you with a nutty rice dish that has a golden crunchy crust on the bottom, that was my favourite bit…
Jewelled aromatic rice with walnuts and pomegranate recipe
- 300 g Amira Superior Aromatic rice
- Generous pinch of saffron threads
- 150 g Dried cranberries
- 1 Large Onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 60 g Unsalted Butter
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp Cardamon pods
- 1 cumin seeds
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To serve:
- 100 g Walnuts, roughly chopped
- Seeds picked from 1 large pomegranate or 110g pack ready prepared pomegranate seeds
- Generous bunch of parsley, chopped
- Finely grated zest from 1 orange
- 1 Garlic clove, very finely chopped
- Add Amira rice to a sieve and rinse under running water. Tip into a bowl and cover well with cold water. Set aside to soak for 1 hour. Add the saffron to a small heatproof glass and cover with 2 tablespoons of boiling water, then set aside to soak. Add the cranberries to a small heatproof bowl and cover in boiling water, set aside to soak.
- Once your rice, saffron and cranberries are halfway through their soaking time, add the oil and half the butter to a deep, preferably non stick, frying pan and set over a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, cinnamon, cardamon and cumin and fry gently for 30 minutes until the onion is soft and lightly caramelised, then turn off the heat.
- Drain your Amira rice and add to a large saucepan. Pour over boiling water so it comes a generous 3 centimetres above the rice and set over a medium high heat. Boil for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold running water to cool and drain well. The rice will have started to cook but will still have plenty of bite and the grains will not yet be fluffy.
- Stir the cooled Amira rice through the onions in the frying pan, along with the saffron, cranberries and their soaking water. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stirring well, then dot the surface of the rice with the remaining butter.
- Using the handle of a wooden spoon make 5-6 holes through the rice all the way to the bottom of the pan - this helps it to steam evenly. Tear off a sheet of baking paper, scrunch it up under cold running water, shaking off the excess, then lay snugly over the surface of the rice. Cover the pan tightly with a layer of foil and set over a very low heat. Cook, undisturbed, for 40 minutes, after which time your rice will be cooked and fluffy and a delicious buttery crust will have developed on the bottom.
- Whilst your rice is cooking, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until golden and smelling nutty. Tip into a bowl and stir through the pomegranate seeds, parsley, orange zest and garlic. Set aside.
- Once your rice is ready, remove and discard the paper. Lightly fork through the walnut, pomegranate and parsley mixture and pile the rice onto a warmed serving dish. Scrape the lovely crunchy caramelised rice (the tahdig) from the base of the pan and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately. (Although it tastes delicious cold too)
Thank you to Amira for sending the ingredients to create this recipe