Pomegranate Rice

Breaking my own moratorium on buying new cookbooks, I picked up this book in a secondhand shop: Marcus Samuelsson: The Soul of a New Cuisine in 2010.

Odd. Boomerang Books can’t find it, but I have seen it in a lot of libraries around the place. I think the only African food I have eaten was at Le Kilimanjaro in Newtown. It was so long ago I can’t remember what I ordered, except that I ate whatever it was with my hands.

I read it cover to cover when I first got it, but it took me a while to find the time to cook something from the book.

I settled upon pomegranate rice. The notes accompanying the recipe says:

“The secret to this dish is to cook part of the rice in butter to make it crunchy, giving it another nice texture along with the pomegranate seeds”

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups broken jasmine rice or long-grain white rice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
One 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup pistachios
Seeds from two pomegranates

Melt the butter in a small frypan over a very low heat. Add 1/2 cup of the rice, stirring to coat. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is a nut-brown colour. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, ginger, cinnamon, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups rice and saute, stirring frequently, until the rice is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Mix together the rices in a bowl, and fold in the pistachios and pomegranate seeds.

Remove the bay leaf. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Here is the pilaf-y bit:

pomegranate rice

I’m not sure what a ‘shallot’ is in cookbook written by an Ethiopian raised in Sweden and working in American. I pretended it was an onion, rather than the spring onion that I am more familiar with or the purple coloured french escallot. I only thought to check the Joy of Cooking after I already had cooked this dish. The shallot he is referring to used to be classed as Allium Ascolonicium, so it is the latter.

I was a little doubtful of the crunchy rice fried in butter:

Rice fried in butter

I thought it was still a little raw. A lot raw.

I made the pilaf with an Indian basmati rice. As the pilaf bit was cooking in my large frypan – it didn’t take all that long, perhaps only 10 minutes total – I shelled pistachios, and ate far more than were ready for the final dish.

So I made everything to spec, but only mixed together a small amount to make the final result:

Pomegranate rice

I was right about the raw rice. The raw crunchy rice. I didn’t like it at all. Although I have to tell you – the rice was so crunchy I didn’t notice the pomegranate seeds which normally annoy me. The total overall was sweet/sour from the pomegranates kernals, and warm/savoury from the cooked rice.

Next time?
Yes, I would make this again. The pilaf bit was very easy to make – perhaps I would try with a bit of saffron. The raw rice in butter – not for me. I would instead toast the pistachios to add that ‘crunch’ factor, but without the teethbreaking acgriculturalness.


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