A very Muslim dish, this slightly sweet rice should be eaten with rather spicy curries as a glorious contrast. As it contains saffron and nuts, it is considered a dish for for a banquet.
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- 2 tbsp warmed whole milk
- 200 g (7 oz) basmati rice
- 3 tbsp ghee or butter
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 2.5 cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp liquid yellow food colouring
- ½ tsp salt
- 15 g (½ oz) blanched, slivered almonds, plus more to serve
- 1 tbsp sultanas, plus more to serve
- 90 g (3¼ oz) caster sugar, or to taste
- 1 sheet of silver leaf (known as "vark" in Indian grocers), to serve (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 30 minutes
Standing time 3 hours 20 minutes
Put the saffron in a small, heavy-based frying pan set over a medium heat. Stir it about until the threads turn a few
shades darker. Put the milk in a cup and crumble in the saffron, then set aside for 3 hours.
Wash the rice in several changes of water, then drain. Leave it to soak in 1.2 litres of water for 30 minutes. Drain and leave in the colander for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2.
Heat the ghee in a wide, heavy-based, flame- and ovenproof pan over a medium heat. When it’s hot, put in the cardamom and cinnamon and stir them about for a second. Now put in the rice. Stir and sauté the rice gently for about 3 minutes, reducing the heat slightly if it begins to catch. Add 325 ml of water, the food colouring and the salt.
Now increase the heat back to medium and gently stir and cook the rice until all the water is absorbed. Pour in the saffron milk and stir in the almonds, sultanas and sugar. Cover very tightly and put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove the rice from the oven and stir, removing the cardamom and cinnamon as you do so. Spoon into a warmed serving dish and gently arrange some silver leaf on the top, if you like. Sprinkle with the extra sultanas and almonds to serve.