© Sara Remington
Sweet rice with carrots and nuts
This colourful rice dish infused with orange and cardamom is traditionally paired with spiced baked chicken. Be sure to zest only the outer layer of the orange, because the white pith underneath will make the dish bitter. The mild flavour of unrefined coconut oil complements the sweetness of this rice and can make for an interesting variation on the traditional butter.
2 c. (500 ml) white basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
3 c. (750 ml) water
2 tbsp. (30 g) butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
3 tbsp. (45 ml) unrefined coconut oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 c. (500 ml) grated carrots (about 3 large)
½ c. (125 ml) slivered or coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground cardamom
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) ground turmeric
½ c. (125 ml) pistachios, coarsely chopped, plus 1 tbsp. (15 ml) for garnish grated
zest of 1 large orange
¼ c. (60 ml) honey
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) saffron, ground and steeped in 1 tbsp. (15 ml) hot water (instructions follow)
Drain the rice and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. In a stockpot, combine the water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, return to a boil, then turn down the heat to its lowest setting. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
While the rice cooks, heat a small skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion in the coconut oil for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the carrots, almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric, and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add ½ cup (125 ml) pistachios, the orange zest and the honey, and cook for about 2 minutes, until heated through. Season with salt.
When the rice is ready, turn off the heat and let rest for 5 minutes, then dot with the butter and fluff with a fork. The rice should be dry and fluffy.
Scoop the rice into a large bowl. Add the carrot mixture and drizzle in the saffron. Mix gently and season with salt. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pistachios. Serves 6 to 8.
For the saffron
When using saffron in a recipe, first measure out the amount that’s called for. Then, using a mortar and pestle, grind the strands to release their oils and draw out their flavour.
If your saffron is even a little moist, it will be hard to grind. To make sure it’s dry, heat your oven to the lowest setting, spread the saffron on a clean, dry baking sheet and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Let it cool, then transfer to the mortar. Add a pinch of sugar or salt, which makes the process easier, and grind the saffron into a powder.
Transfer the saffron to a small bowl. Bring some water or stock to a boil and let it cool for a few minutes. Alternatively, heat milk, butter or oil. Pour hot liquid equal to two to three times the amount of saffron into the bowl. Gently swirl the saffron with the liquid and let it steep until you’re ready to use. When the recipe calls for the saffron, add the entire contents of the bowl.
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