Monday, April 23, 2012

Middle Eastern Dinner Side Dish

Finding this recipe was like finding the most perfect gem ever. It was so easy and absolute everyone's favorite part of dinner. The richness of the rice and oil were soft and delicious on your palate. With the addition of the  rich nuttiness of the browned butter, sweet currents and toasted slivered almonds it was perfect. The saffron took this rice to another level. It was slightly exotic with the saffron and the sweet bursts of currents in you mouth.  Since the meatballs also had cooked currents in them, the whole dinner was delicious but this standard Persian rice was decadent. This is a perfect dish. 

Saffron Rice with currents and toasted almonds
Persian Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Currants
adapted from Food and Wine 
slightly adapted from Lesley Eats
serves 6

2 cups white basmati rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt 

½ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1 tablespoon water

½ cup slivered almonds
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup  and 1 Tablespoon dried currants 
additional salt and pepper to taste

 Bring the four cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add salt and rice, lower the heat and simmer for 5- 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Rice should be slightly “al dente.” Drain the rice thoroughly and return to the sauce pan. Set aside.

 Crush the saffron and then dissolve the saffron in the one tablespoon of water and stir into the rice.
Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F.
 Brown the almonds over medium-high heat in a medium or large skillet. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. When browned, pour the almonds in a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium and add the butter and oil. Brown the butter and then add the currants and sugar. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has browned a bit more, stirring frequently (just a few minutes). Remove from the burner and set aside.

Spread half the rice in a casserole dish or other baking dish (at least 3 quarts). Pour half the butter mixture over the rice and sprinkle with half the almonds. Then spread the remaining half of the rice in another layer and pour over the remaining butter mixture and almonds.

Cover (with lid or aluminum foil) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is soft and there’s some browning around the edges. Season with salt and pepper to taste when serving.

This rice was so fantastic and it did not last long but the little that did was delicious the next day!


  1. Oh my goodness. That rice pilaf sounds SO wonderful. I love rice. I love currants. And I love almonds. WOW! Three for three.

    I will definiately try this!!


  2. This looks delicious. I cook a lot of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian dishes. I think this would be a great recipe to add! Thanks for sharing


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