Persian Lentil Rice with Saffron, Roasted Pumpkin, Crispy Onions, and Dates
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 10 – 12
Large mixing bowl
Heavy bottomed saucepan with lid
Round serving platter
1 Kent pumpkin, peeled and cubed
4 – 5 medium brown onions, diced
1 15-oz. (400 g) can brown lentils, rinsed and drained
½ cup (100 g) golden raisins
½ cup (100 g) medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
3 cups (400 g) basmati rice, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons Persian Advieh spice blend
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup (250 ml) water for onions
3 cups (750ml) water to cook the rice
4 – 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
- Place cubed pumpkin on a parchment-lined baking tray and brush with approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt to taste. Bake until the pumpkin is lightly browned and fork-tender, around 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the onions to a small saucepan and pour in 1 cup of water. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 – 25 minutes.
- Once the water has almost fully evaporated and the onions are translucent, add a tablespoon of olive oil and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking until the onions become golden and caramelised, around 15 – 20 minutes.
- Add the Advieh spice mix and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes.
- Add the drained lentils, golden raisins, and medjool dates and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste and remove from heat. Set aside.
- To prepare the rice, pour 3 cups of water in a medium pot and bring to a full boil. Add in the rice and cover with a lid. Cook until the rice is barely cooked, around 9 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse the rice under cold water.
- In the same pot you used for the rice, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and add in the onion-lentil-raisin-date mix, baked pumpkin, and rice.
- Using the back of a wooden spoon, dome the rice into a conical shape and using the handle, poke several holes (almost reaching the bottom of the pot) into the rice. Replace the lid, putting a clean tea towel under it to ensure steam doesn’t escape. Cook on a low heat for approximately 15 minutes
- Remove the lid, redome the rice, and drizzle olive oil around the perimeter of the pot. Increase the heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- When ready, the rice will make popping and crackling noises and smell fragrant and toasted. It should come away from the sides and bottom of the pot with no resistance, indicating that the crispy crust has formed.
- Place a serving dish directly on top of the pot and wearing oven mitts or using tea towels, swiftly and confidently flip over the rice, like turning a cake out of its pan. Gently remove the pot and serve immediately.
Lainie Cadry is a newly registered nurse and holds a New Graduate position at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Lainie’s cooking is influenced by her passion for health and her diverse Jewish cultural heritage from Persia and Eastern Europe. At 20 years old, Lainie was the youngest contributor published in the Monday Morning Cooking Club’s third cookbook, “It’s Always About the Food”. Lainie runs a kosher food Instagram account named Lainie’s Kitchen, where she reimagines traditional recipes with a fun, nourishing and soulful approach.