Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jeweled Pumpkin Rice

500g peeled and seeded butternut squash (the flesh of a 750g squash), cut into 1cm dice
1tsp fine sea salt
2tbsp olive oil
a big pinch of saffron (about 50 strands)
100g unsalted butter
6cm piece of cinnamon stick
4 allspice berries, crushed
1 large or 2 medium onions, thinly sliced across the grain
15g dried barberries (or currants)
50g shelled, unsalted pistachios
1/2tsp cardamom
300g basmati rice, soaked in tepid salted water for 1 hour
450ml vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 230c
Toss the diced butternut squash with half of the salt and the olive oil. Spread it in a single layer in a baking tray and roast for 30 min, or until tender. Mix the saffron with 3tbsp of boiling water, and ad 25g of the butter, which should melt, set aside.
Heat the remaining butter in a saucepan with the cinnamon and allspice till it foams, then add the onion, and the remaining ½ tsp salt. Fry over medium heat for 10 or 15 min, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and starting to color. Add the barberries, pistachios and cardamom, and cook for 10 min more, until the onion is golden and sweet. Now drain the rice and add to the pan, stirring for a min or two to coat, then pour in the stock. Taste for seasoning then scatter with the roast squash. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper, and a tight fitting lid, and cook over a high heat for 5 min. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for a final 5 min. Remove the lid and the greaseproof paper, and drizzle with the buttery saffron water. Replace the lid and leave to rest, off the heat, for 5-10 min. Serve with a scattering of crispy onions if you like.

This was a bit time consuming to make, but absolutely and totally worth it. It came out so beautifully. It’s another one from Moro East, which is fast becoming one of my favorite books.

I loved that way of adding the saffron, just pouring it over at the end all mixed with the butter. That, and the cardamom and pistachios really make this a special dish.

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