This Middle Eastern dish is fragrant, a little sweet and very beautiful. In the original, the orange peel cooked in sugar syrup is much sweeter in the end. I reassured him, partly for ease, partly for health reasons. It is still a wonderful dish.
You can make it even bigger with saffron butter. Soak a pinch of saffron strands in 1½ tablespoons of boiling water for 20 minutes, melt some butter and add saffron water. Pour this over before serving.
If you can start making pilaf, you can make them with many different ingredients. I often make them with what I have – for example, leftover roast lamb shank, roasted almonds and dried cherries – so I always have a supply of long-grain rice and dried fruit and nuts.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 300 g of basmati rice
- 1 orange
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 600 g chicken thigh meat cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 7 pods of cardamom
- 40 g butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 900 ml of chicken broth
- 125 g carrots, peeled and cut into matches
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 25 g unsalted pistachios or blanched almonds, chopped
- 4 tablespoons chopped coriander
- Put the rice in a colander and rinse it under the tap until the water becomes clear.
- Cut half of the orange with the peel with a very sharp knife or potato peeler and try to remove it into wide strips. Cut as many white shells as possible and cut the crust into small strips. Squeeze the juice from the orange into a bowl.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the chicken pieces over a high heat to get a good color (you just paint the meat, you don’t bake it). Remove to a bowl.
- Crush the coriander seeds in a mortar and grate and place in a small bowl. Crush the cardamom so you can remove the pods (discard them), then crush the seeds.
- Heat half the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and fry the onions until pale golden. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes, then add the spices and cook for another minute. Add the rice and stir until well coated with butter and just starting to fry.
- Add the base and orange juice and bring to a boil. When the surface becomes cracked, reduce the heat. Shake the roasted chicken and cover the pan. The rice will be steamed. Do not stir, otherwise you will release the starch and the rice will become sticky. Cooking will take about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in a pan and simmer the carrots over medium heat to soften (it should lose a raw bite). Remove the carrots and place the orange peel in the butter juices.
- Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until softened, then add sugar and stir until all the moisture is cooked through and the shell is lightly caramelized. Gently stir the carrots and rind into the cooked rice, along with the nuts and coriander. Serve immediately.
Diana’s best advice
Some pilaf recipes suggest soaking the rice in water, but if you are preparing it at the last minute, simply rinse it in a sieve.