It is very difficult for me to choose my favourite cuisine, but at a push it will be between Asian and North African (Persian, Moroccan, etc) I like to serve themed dinners and if I am making Persian food, then everything on the table will be Persian related. Spicy lamb stew with fresh pomegranate seeds, labneh and a persian salad. And then there is this bejewelled rice cake, a show stopper on any table!
I have used the same recipe for many years until I saw a different presentation by chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen from Restaurant Jan in Nice. He bejewelled his rice cake with potato slices and of course I just had to try it. This recipe is a combination between my own and using the presentation tips from Chef Jan.
Just so that you know, those crispy golden brown bits at the bottom and sides are the best part, so make sure you keep it in the oven until it is just right.
- 2 cups x basmati rice
- ¼ cup salt, plus 2 tsp for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup x dried cranberries
- ¼ cup x pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp x rose water (optional)
- 1 tsp x saffron threads
- 3 x egg yolks
- 1 cup x plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
- ½ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
- 1 x medium sized potato
- Flat leave parsley or coriander
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add ¼ cup of salt.
- While you’re waiting for the water to boil, place rice in a sieve and rinse with lukewarm water, swishing the rice around with your hands to get rid of excess starch. Continue to rinse until the water from rice runs clear.
- Add the rice to the pot and give it a few stirs to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender but still has a slight bite to it, 6–8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Make a saffron infusion by placing 2 Tbsp hot water in a large bowl, add the saffron. Let sit for 20 minutes to allow the saffron to infuse and draw out as much color as possible.
- Mix in egg yolks, yogurt, ½ cup oil, 2 tsp salt and rosewater (if using).
- Add the rice into the yogurt mixture and gently toss to ensure every grain is coated, set aside.
- At this stage you need to heat your oven to 190°C.
- Brush a round 20cm diameter see-through glass dish with melted butter. (It is easier to use a see-though dish as you will be able to see if the rice is a golden brown color at the bottom and sides)
- Slice the potato as thin as possible, using a mandolin slicer makes this job so much easier! The size of the potato and the pattern that you create will determine how many slices you will need.
- Brush each potato slice with melted butter and place a parsley or coriander leave on top. Place the potato slice with the leave side down into your bowl and brush again with butter.
- Continue this process until you have completed your pattern. Place in the fridge for a few minutes to ensure the butter has hardened before you spoon in the rice.
- Add half of rice mixture and use the palms of your hands or a measuring cup to gently pack and compact rice into dish. Scatter the pistachios and cranberries over the rice and top with the remaining rice. Press down again, this time more firmly (this helps with unmolding).
- Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake until rice on the bottom and around edges is a deep golden brown, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Take the dish out of the oven and let it stand for about 5 minutes, discard the foil.
- Loosen the rice around the edges using the point of a knife. Place a large warm plate on top and gently invert rice onto the plate like a cake.
- Enjoy as a side dish with a spicy lamb stew.