Author Notes: This recipe is based loosely on a recipe for Shirin Polo (Jeweled Rice) from Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food. I had been planning to make pauljoseph's Tamatar Biryani from this site (and the F52 cookbook, volume II) that week for the Sabbath meal, but opted to go a different route. I kept the cardamom and cinnamon stick from pauljoseph's recipe and gilded the lily with the addition of sour cherries, dried apricots, pomegranate arils and pistachios - creamtea
- 3 cups Basmati Rice
- 12 pods cardamom
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons olive or safflower oil, or butter
- 4-5 small onions, peeled, the ends trimmed, halved vertically and sliced horizontally
- 4 cups water
- 1-2 pinch saffron threads, toasted on a small square of aluminum foil in a 200º oven 6-8 minutes, then crumbled with fingers or pounded in a mortar and pestle
- 1 cup dried sour cherries
- 1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup pomegranate arils
- 3/4 cups pistachio nuts, chopped
- Rinse the rice in several changes of water, agitating the rice with your hands, until water is fairly clear. Place in a large bowl, add water to more than cover, and add about one teaspoon salt. Stir. Allow to soak for at least one-half to one full hour. Drain well.
- Place about 4-5 cups of water into a teakettle and bring to the boil.
- Heat a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add butter or oil and tilt and swirl. When oil is hot or as butter is melting, add the cardamom pods and the cinnamon stick. When they begin to sizzle and pop, add onions, turning heat to medium to avoid burning. If using butter, watch carefully or it will burn. Saute until onions are nicely browned and fragrant. Remove about half of sauteed onions for later garnish. Add rice and saute, stirring, until coated with oil and kernels are opaque.
- Place about 1/2 cup of boiling water from the kettle in a small bowl and stir in the saffron. Pour most of the rest of the boiling water over the rice, until level of water is just a little over level of rice, adding the extra 1/2 cup of saffron water at the end. Stir to distribute the saffron-water evenly. Add a good pinch of salt and stir again. When water returns to boil, cover carefully with a paper towel and the cover of the pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to steam another few minutes, then fluff well with a fork; it would be nice to fish out the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods at this point. Stir in apricots and cherries, reserving a little of each for garnish. Transfer while hot to a serving dish, garnish with reserved onions, cherries and apricots, pomegranate arils and finally pistachios. Serve immediately.