This is my latest offering in April - in which, I am featuring recipes from the amazing cuisine of Iran (check out the other recipes in the links below). Rice pudding is one of my favourite desserts, it's hearty, filling and warming for a cooler evening (and the evening have started to get a lot cooler here over the past week!). When I was young I didn't like rice pudding at all, but I think that I would have liked this deliciously simple sweet rosewater pudding. Sholeh Zard is a traditional Iranian dessert flavoured with rosewater and coloured with saffron. Traditionally it is served cold, however, I much preferred mine hot and would recommend it that way.
Now comes the confession... I'm not exactly flush with money at the moment so I had to substitute my saffron! I know, true foodies would be horrified, but real saffron just wasn't an option for me! I'm also very conscious never to buy cheap saffron because it is usually fake, and some types of fake saffron are actually made from gelatine and food colouring (which horrified me when I found out!), therefore wouldn't be suitable for vegetarians or vegans (or anybody who doesn't consume animal products for religious or cultural reasons). I know that using turmeric instead of saffron is considered a culinary sin by high brow foodies, but sometimes needs must. However, I don't use just turmeric because it will go the wrong colour, so I add a pinch of sweet paprika as well to get a slightly more orangey hue. The recipe below includes options for saffron and for "student's saffron".
On another note - I've been nominated for the Best Australian Blogs 2012 People's Choice Award - you can vote for me by hitting up this link: http://www.sydneywriterscentre.com.au/bloggingcomp/peopleschoice.html
250g long grain or basmati rice
1.5L cold water
1/2 tsp real saffron (OR 1 tsp tumeric plus a pinch of sweet paprika)
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup rosewater
1/2 cup slivered almonds (plus extra for garnish)
1/2 cup pistachios
1. Prehead your oven to 150 degrees C. Place the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.
2. Place the rice and the water in a big saucepan and put over a medium heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes (or until the rice is just cooked).
3. Add the sugar and stir well to dissolve. Transfer to a large baking dish (one that has a lid because you will need to cover it!).
4. Steep the saffron (or tumeric/paprika) in half a cup of hot water. Add the saffron, rosewater and almonds (except those which you will use to garnish). Stir well and cover.
5. Bake in the oven for half an hour. Let stand a bit to cool down before serving as it will be very hot coming out of the oven!
6. Roughly chop the pistachios (or pulse in a food processor). Garnish each serving liberally with slivered almonds and chopped pistachios before eating.
This month I'm featuring lots of amazing Iranian recipes!
Check out my other Iranian recipe posts: