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Author Notes: Travelling to Iran with this fragrant saffron and sour cherry rice —Ala Lemon
- 350 grams / 2 cups frozen, stoned sour cherries
- 150 grams / ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 chicken cut into 4, or 4 chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 200 grams / 7 oz. minced meat (lamb, veal or beef)
- 1 good pinch ground saffron
- 2 tablespoons boiling water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 180 grams / 1 cup basmati rice
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 500 milliliters / 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon toasted slithered almonds, to serve (optional)
- Allow the sour cherries to thaw in a small pan. Once thawed, add the sugar and simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the saffron and 2 tbsp boiling water. Let it steep in the water for at least 30 minutes.
- In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp butter or oil, and sauté the chicken and half the onion, until cooked through. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the minced meat, the rest of the onion, salt and pepper. Mix well, then form small balls, the size of a large hazelnut. Heat the remaining butter or butter in the frying pan and fry the meatballs. Set aside.
- In a shallow pan, heat the olive oil. Stir in the rice and salt and stir gently until the rice is coated with oil and glistening. Add the boiling water and stir briefly.
- Turn heat to the lowest setting, put a lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Do NOT lift the lid or disturb the rice for the entire time.
- After 20 minutes, remove pan from heat, remove lid, and pour the saffron infusion into 3 points in the rice. Place a clean tea towel over the rice and replace the lid. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- When ready to serve, fluff the rice gently with a fork. Mix with sour cherries and meatballs, and top with the chicken. Decorate with toasted slithered almonds, if you wish.