Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio and mixed herbs


I was introduced to Yotam Ottolenghi‘s cookbooks a few months ago and finally have one of my own — Jerusalem.  The recipes and pictures are mouth-watering just when reading them.  I made Christmas Eve dinner for some friends and had to break the cookbook out.  One of the recipes I tried was Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio and mixed herbs.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 /40 g tbsp unsalted butter (I just used some olive oil)
2 cups/360g basmati rice, rinsed under cold water and drained
2 1/2 cups/560ml boiling water
1 tsp saffron threads, soaked for 30 minutes in 3 tbsp boiling water
1/4 cup/40g dried barberries, soaked for a few minutes in freshly boiled water with a pinch of sugar (I couldn’t find them after checking out several specialty stores, went with dried cranberries)
1 oz/30g dill, roughly chopped
2/3 oz/20g chervil, roughly chopped (nixed it because there was none at the store and it was such a small amount)
1/3 oz/10g tarragon, roughly chopped (used dry)
1/2 cup/60g slivered or crushed unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

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Directions:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the rice, making sure the grains are well coated. Add the boiling water, a teaspoon of salt and some white pepper. Mix well, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to uncover the pan – you need to let the rice to steam properly. –I had to go a bit longer than 15.
Remove the pan from the heat – all the water will have been absorbed by the rice – and pour the saffron water over about a quarter of the surface, leaving most of the rice white. Cover with a tea towel, reseal tightly with the lid and set aside for five to 10 minutes.
With a large spoon, transfer the white rice to a large bowl and fluff it up with a fork. Drain the barberries (again, just used cranberries) and stir them in, followed by the herbs and most of the pistachios, reserving a few to garnish. Fluff up the saffron rice in the pan, then fold gently into the white rice – don’t overmix: you don’t want the white grains to be stained by the yellow ones. Taste, adjust the seasoning and transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Scatter the remaining pistachios on top and serve warm or at room temperature.

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This was so good.  The nice taste from the saffron and all other flavors jumping together.  And the red and green colors coming together on Christmas Eve.  So glad I tried this!

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