Nearly every culture has an adaptation of this ancient rice dish. This delicate and
creamy version is inspired by two different Persian rice puddings: Shir Berenj and
Shollehzard. The former has a topping of honey or jam; the latter incorporates
saffron. In Iran, a person will serve this dish to give thanks for their good fortune or
to honor the departed. In Jerusalem, there are restaurants who are making Saffron Rice Pudding an art.
- 4 ready-to-eat dried figs
- 150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup clear honey
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 1l/35fl oz/4⅓ cups whole milk
- 30g/1oz/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 tsp Saffron Liquid
- 100g/3½oz/½ cup short-grain pudding rice
- 150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup double/heavy cream
- 2 tbsp flaked/slivered almonds, to sprinkle
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4.
- Slice the figs length ways into sixths and place in a baking dish. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes until tender.
- Meanwhile, mix 6 tablespoons of the honey with the rosewater.
- Remove the figs from the oven and pour the rose and honey mixture over them. Set aside to cool.
- Put the milk, the remaining honey, the butter, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron liquid in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat.
- Meanwhile, rinse the rice several times under cold running water.
- Stir the mixture well, then reduce the heat to low.
- Add the rice and bring just to the boil, then simmer for 50 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until the rice is very soft and begins to disintegrate.
- The mixture should thicken into a pudding. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Pour the cream into a bowl and whip until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold it into the cooked rice.
- Pour the pudding into four dishes and leave to cool, then cover with cling film/plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to chill for several hours.
- Meanwhile, toast the flaked/slivered almonds in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often.
- Before serving, sprinkle each pudding with a pinch of cinnamon, add the honeyed figs and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.