ROSE SCENTED PERSIAN RICE PUDDING

 

PERSIAN RICE PUDDING

I absolutely adore rice puddings & consider it the food of the gods -it’s not for nothing that babies here are often weaned on rice!  I have eaten it around the world (of course there are many versions as it is such a cheap, staple ingredient) and have loved many of them. My favourites include the slow baked, creamy,  nutmeg flavoured pudding of my childhood served hot on a cold day (with the skin of course) and the very rich, sweet Spanish Arroz con Leche served cold on a hot day.  Both France & Italy have sweet, custardy versions with vanilla and many Asian countries cook it with coconut milk and serve with fruit such as lychees…I could go on. To be fair I’m very happy with tinned or carton rice puddings and yes, I did snaffle the kids’ baby rice.

When I read this recipe for a Persian style rice pudding in Sabrina Ghayour’s book  ‘PERSIANA’ -Recipes from the Middle East & beyond, I knew that I had to try it…I loved the idea of rice delicately flavoured with rose with zesty lime & gentle spices. Sprinkled with crushed pistachio nuts & edible rose petals it looked as beautiful as it tastes. 

I don’t often cook from recipe books but I love ‘Persiana’ with a passion, at first glance it seems so exotic but in actual fact, once you have accepted the long list of ingredients, this is a cuisine that is simple is simple to make and made to share-my kind of food. I could eat every page. I have only made some tiny changes, marked by asterisks, the most important being to take great care with the rose flavouring-perhaps it is a western thing, although I love it it’s very easy to over do it and end up with a soapy taste -you have been warned.

(Most of the ingredients are available in good supermarkets (even in Cumbria) or on line.)

 

Persian Rice Pudding by Sabrina Ghayour

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BAKED AUBERGINE WITH CORIANDER & POMEGRANATE

 

Baked Aubergine with Coriander & Pomegranate

This is a take on the famous Turkish dish ‘Imam Bayildi’, a delicious combination of baked, silky, smooth aubergines with an aromatic stuffing. Legend has it that the Imam fainted with pleasure after tasting it. I’m not sure if I fainted the first time but it has become one of my all-time favourite dishes. If you are planning on improving your diet by eating less meat then this is a great dish, if you are cutting out dairy products as well then it is also suitable for a  vegan diet.  Personally, I’m going down the road of eating less meat and making sure that the meat I eat is better quality and the result of a higher welfare standard. 

You could serve these aubergines as part of mezze type meal (lots of little dishes served before a meal). These could be hummus, falafel (see my own recipe for these), spicy sausage, cheese, stuffed vegetables, olives and tzatziki etc. I love all these little dishes, with bigger portions, for a pick & nibble more sociable sort of meal. 

Give it a go, try not to faint and enjoy this meal with friends.

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