Jewelled rice

Jewelled rice

Morasa polow

By
From
Saraban
Serves
6
Photographer
Mark Roper

There are many recipes for this king of Persian dishes, some of which are variations of sweet Shirin Polow. This version is less sweet, which to our mind really allows the flavours and textures of the separate ‘jewels’ to shine through.

Much of the beauty of this dish is in the presentation – and indeed morasa polow is often served as a centrepiece at lavish wedding celebrations and other feasts. Instead of turning it out with its crunchy tahdeeg crown, we like to spoon the rice into a pyramid shape to really show off the jewels.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
water
300g basmati rice
2 tablespoons sea salt
70ml vegetable oil
40g unsalted butter, melted

Jewels

Quantity Ingredient
water
2 mandarins or oranges, zested, cut into julienne strips
50g caster sugar
2 tablespoons dried barberries, stems removed
30g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons currants
50g slivered pistachios
50g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
50g roasted hazelnuts, skins rubbed off

Saffron liquid

Quantity Ingredient
20 saffron threads
2 tablespoons boiling water

Method

  1. Wash the rice thoroughly, then leave it to soak in a generous amount of lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Swish it around with your fingers every now and then to loosen the starch.
  2. Strain the rice, rinsing it again with warm water. Bring 2 litres water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the salt and stir in the strained rice. Return the water to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Test the rice by pinching a grain between your fingers or by biting it. It should be soft on the outside, but still hard in the centre. Strain the rice and rinse again with warm water. Toss it several times to drain away as much of the water as you can.
  3. Return the saucepan to a medium heat and add the oil and 2 tablespoons water. As soon as the oil begins to sizzle, spoon in enough rice to cover the base of the pan in a thin layer. Spoon in the rest of the rice gradually, building it up into a pyramid. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke 5 or 6 holes down through the rice to the base of the pan to help it steam. Mix 2 tablespoons warm water with the melted butter and drizzle this over the rice. Wrap the saucepan lid in a clean tea towel and cover the pan as tightly as you can.
  4. Leave the pan on a medium–high heat for a 2–3 minutes until the rice is visibly steaming – you will see puffs of steam escaping from the edges of the pan. Turn the heat down to low and leave the pan alone for 40 minutes. Resist the temptation to peek, as this releases the steam and affects the cooking time. The rice can actually sit quite happily over the lowest possible heat for another 20 minutes or so.
  5. While the rice is cooking, prepare the ‘jewels’. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and blanch the mandarin zest for 20 seconds. Drain and repeat twice more to remove any bitterness. Add the sugar and 100 ml water to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then strain off the syrup and reserve the zest and syrup separately.
  6. Soak the barberries in cold water for 2 minutes, then drain and dry well. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the barberries and fry for 4–5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  7. Just before serving, remove 2–3 tablespoons of the cooked rice and mix with the saffron liquid. Spoon the remaining rice onto a warm serving platter and mound into a pyramid. Sprinkle on the saffron rice followed by all the ‘jewels’. Drizzle over a little of the reserved mandarin syrup, which will make the jewels shine. Serve the crunchy tah-deeg separately.
Tags:
Saraban
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Iran
Iranian
Middle Eastern
Persian
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