Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

Today is one heck of a special day. Like jump up and down, and square dance like you did in high school (or was that just me?) kind of day. My friend Faith Gorsky from An Edible Mosaic just had her first cookbook released: An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair!!

I was so pleased when Faith asked me to be a part of her virtual book launch party and share a recipe from the book with me. The book has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East. After hearing Faith’s story, I am dying to go to the Middle East and eat the food. DYING!

Faith spent six months living in the Middle East, and after returning home, couldn’t stop going back to visit making sure to take in the culture and food more and more each time. Recipes in her book are authentic Middle Eastern (taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, Sahar), but made totally easy for the home cook. Faith explains complicated dishes in an approachable, easy-to-follow way. I’m totally buying it, and am heading over to order it on Amazon right now! (you can also get it from Barnes and Noble).

After you check out the recipe for Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts, head on over to Faith’s blog to check out her virtual book launch party to see the other bloggers who are participating. Also, as part of her virtual book launch, Faith is hosting a giveaway of a fabulous set of prizes, which you will totally want to enter for! Even I’m entering…because I like free stuff. DUH!

This recipe for Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts is perfect for my November vegan month, but it would also be a perfect side dish for you meat eaters out there. Faith recommends serving it with chicken, beef, or lamb (or any curry dish).

Let’s make this, shall we? Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.

Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.

Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.

Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
“ROZ MLOW’WAN”
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.
Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

Ingredients:
1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

Directions:
1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL: Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.