Goodness, what a beautiful rice dish. Ottolenghi again creates magic with this Iranian recipe that he credits Claudia Roden’s classic A Book Of Middle Eastern Food. He believes that Irani people cook the best rice, and I have to say he might be right.
This recipe takes a bit more effort than banging some rice into the rice cooker, but for special occasions, and for weekends, it is definitely worth it. The rice grains are beautifully separated and soft. The dish has a sweet overtone from the dates, and conjures up beautiful Middle Eastern feasts on low tables in tents with thick rugs covering your legs.
This dish is cooked like a biryani, in layers. It needs a very low heat – raise the pot above your heat source a little if you can (eg place a roasting rack or heat diffuser over the heat source). It could also be cooked in a very low oven, but you’ll miss the crunchy rice that forms at the bottom.
Recently I needed to replace my saffron, so I ordered some from Saffron Only. It is the most beautiful saffron! Far better that what I had been using. If you love saffron, check her out on Instagram. (I only recommend products when they are excellent, and am not recompensed for my recommendations.)