Saffron imparts a lovely golden hue and a touch of the exotic to fragrant basmati rice, and, combined with golden raisins and bit of crunchy nuttiness from pine nuts, produces a sweet and savory combination that I love. It’s easy to make and a dish that you can turn to for everyday meals or special occasions. In fact, you might want to consider it for your Thanksgiving table this year. I like switching up the side dishes at our feast since the family won’t allow me to mess with my now-traditional preparation of the turkey or mashed potatoes. Thanksgiving or not, just know that this saffron rice would also complement fish, chicken or pork nicely (we loved it alongside pork tenderloin with a pear chutney the other night), or make a delicious vegetarian/vegan meal rounded out with a fresh green salad or, my fave, grilled eggplant.
Today, I’m sharing the recipe and some exciting news! My friend Faith Gorsky from An Edible Mosaic has just had her first cookbook released: An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair. Faith is one of the many wonderful bloggers that I followed and drew inspiration from during my first year online. I’m thrilled to be a part of her virtual book launch party and the Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts is one of her recipes from the book.
Faith’s cookbook has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East. Recipes in her book are authentic Middle Eastern (taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, Sahar), but streamlined just a bit for the way we cook today, with unique ingredients demystified and cooking techniques anyone can follow. Faith’s love for Middle Eastern culture and cuisine developed after her marriage when she and her husband spent six months living in the Middle East and each time they traveled back, her passion and appreciation for the region and its cuisine deepened. If you didn’t grow up eating Middle Eastern food, it can be a difficult art to master; Faith understands that, and explains complicated dishes in an approachable, easy-to-follow way. The book is available to order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Please take a minute to head over to Faith’s website to check out her virtual book launch party to see the other bloggers who are participating. Also, as part of her virtual book launch, Faith is hosting a giveaway of a fabulous set of prizes. Don’t miss out, click on over and enter!
Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts (Roz Mlow’Wan)
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.
Serves 4 to 6 Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking
1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, ﬁnely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)
Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then ﬂuff with a fork.
Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.
OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.
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