MAHARAJAH’S RICE

Using only the most expensive ingredients one can get one’s royal hands on, this is good with other feasting dishes like the roast cauliflower korma here.

Serves 4 as part of a main course

1½ cups basmati rice
¾ cup dried soft fruit (e.g. apricots and dates)
20 strands of saffron
½ cup chopped nuts (e.g. pistachios and almonds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
1¾-inch cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon salt

Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water. When the water runs clear, leave to soak in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes.

Next, boil the kettle, put the dried soft fruit into a bowl, and cover with hot water. In a separate bowl, soak the saffron strands in 2 tablespoons of water.

When the rice has finished soaking, place a lidded saucepan over medium heat. When hot, put the chopped nuts into the pan and toast them for a minute or two until they turn a shade darker, then remove to a plate. Melt the butter in the same pan, then add the cloves, black peppercorns, and cinnamon. When the cloves and black peppercorns swell and smell lovely, drain the rice and add to the pan along with the salt.

Stir to coat the grains in butter, then pour in 1½ cups of tap water. Bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, then cover with the lid, turn the heat down, and simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, drain the fruit and chop it into small pieces.

When the rice is cooked, leave to rest for 5 minutes, then fluff up with a fork. Fold in the dried fruit and nuts, and drizzle over the saffron in its soaking liquid.