Saffron rice pudding

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.

Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding

  • 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

    Saffron rice pudding
    Saffron rice pudding

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4.
  2. Slice the figs length ways into sixths and place in a baking dish. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, mix 6 tablespoons of the honey with the rosewater.
  4. Remove the figs from the oven and pour the rose and honey mixture over them. Set aside to cool.
  5. 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.
  6. Meanwhile, rinse the rice several times under cold running water.
  7. Stir the mixture well, then reduce the heat to low.
  8. 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.
  9. The mixture should thicken into a pudding. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  10. Pour the cream into a bowl and whip until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold it into the cooked rice.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Before serving, sprinkle each pudding with a pinch of cinnamon, add the honeyed figs and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding

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