What could be more beautiful and enticing than delicately spiced rice adorned with little jewels of dried fruit and sparkling pomegranate seeds? It is little wonder that Persian Jews traditionally serve large platters of jeweled rice, called morasa polo, at weddings and other joyous occasions
Advance prep. Please come to class with the following steps completed:
– Finely chopped onion (onion can be cut up to 1 day in advance and stored in a Tupperware in the fridge)
– Toast the almonds and pistachios following step 1. Cool and store in a Tupperware until class.
¼ cup (30 g) sliced or slivered almonds
¼ cup (30 g) unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon saffron, crumbled
¼ cup (60 ml) boiling water
2 cups (400 g) basmati rice, soaked in water for 15 minutes and then drained
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (90 g) dried apricots, very thinly sliced
½ cup (70 g) dried cherries or cranberries, roughly chopped
½ cup (70 g) golden or black raisins
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
½ cup (85 g) fresh pomegranate seeds, for serving (optional)
In a small dry frying pan, toast the almonds and pistachios over medium-low heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Set aside.
In a small heatproof bowl, stir together the saffron and boiling water, set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until halfway tender, 5-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add the salt, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cardamom, and pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the apricots, cherries, golden raisins, and orange zest. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining ¼ cup oil over medium heat. Spread half of the parboiled rice on the bottom and cover with the onion and fruit mixture, then the remaining rice. Let cook, undisturbed, until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a chopstick to poke several deep holes in the rice to help steam escape as the rice cooks. Drizzle the saffron-water mixture over the rice. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
Transfer the rice and onion/dried fruit mixture to a wide serving bowl and gently mix to combine. Use a spatula to carefully remove the bottom crust of rice from the pot and place on top. Serve hot, sprinkled with the toasted nuts and pomegranate seeds, if using.
Chocolate Dipped Figs
This is a magical dish is ridiculously simple one to prepare. The sprinkle of sea salt brings everything together. If you can’t find dried Calimyrna figs, substitute lack Mission figs — or your favorite variety.
2 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, roughly chopped
12 dried Calimyrna figs
Flaky sea salt for dusting
1. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler set over simmering water or in the microwave, in a microwave-safe bowl, at 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval.
2. Use your fingers to reshape any figs that were flattened in their package. Dip the rounded bottom half of each fig in the melted chocolate and lay on the figs on their sides on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each fig bottom with a little sea salt. Refrigerate figs until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature.