Based on the classic Persian dish, Javaher Polow, this fruity rice is truly fit for a king. It makes a great side dish for a spicy stew or a succulent roast chicken. The buttery golden crust that develops on the bottom of the pan is absolutely delicious.
- Put the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold running water. Tip into a bowl and cover well with cold water. Set aside to soak for 1 hour. Add the saffron to a small heatproof glass and cover with 2 tablespoons of boiling water, then set aside to soak. Add the cranberries to a small heatproof bowl and cover in boiling water, set aside to soak.
- Once the rice, saffron and cranberries are halfway through their soaking time, add the oil and half the butter to a deep, preferably non-stick, frying pan and set over a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, cinnamon, cardamom and cumin and fry gently for 30 minutes until the onion is soft and lightly caramelised, then turn off the heat.
- Drain the rice and put it in a large saucepan. Pour over boiling water so it comes a generous 3 centimetres above the rice and set over a medium high heat. Boil for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold running water to cool and drain well. The rice will have started to cook but will still have plenty of bite and the grains will not be fluffy.
- Stir the cooled rice through the onions in the frying pan, along with the saffron and soaking water, and the cranberries and their soaking water. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stirring well, then dot the surface of the rice with the remaining butter. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make 5-6 holes through the rice all the way to the bottom of the pan - this helps it to steam evenly. Tear off a sheet of baking paper, scrunch it up under running water, shaking off the excess, then lay snugly over the surface of the rice. Cover tightly with a layer of foil and set over a very low heat. Cook, undisturbed, for 40 minutes, after which time the rice will be cooked and fluffy and a delicious buttery crust will have developed on the bottom.
- Whilst the rice is cooking, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until golden and smelling nutty. Tip into a bowl and stir through the raspberries, parsley, orange zest and garlic. Set aside.
- Once the rice is ready, remove and discard the paper. Lightly fork through the walnut, raspberry and parsley mixture and pile the rice onto a warmed serving dish. Scrape the lovely crunchy caramelised rice bits from the base of the pan and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately.