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Sweet Saffron Rice

This beautiful Indian rice is the perfect accompaniment for any curry.


  • ½  teaspoon saffron threads

  • 2 tablespoons warmed whole milk

  • 200g (7oz) basmati rice

  • 3 tablespoons ghee or butter

  • 4 green cardamom pods

  • 2.5 centimetre (1 inch) cinnamon stick

  • ¼  teaspoon liquid yellow food colouring

  • ½  teaspoon salt

  • 15g ( ½ oz) blanched, slivered almonds, plus more to serve

  • 1 tablespoon sultanas, plus more to serve

  • 90g (3 ¼ oz) caster sugar, or to taste

  • 1 sheet of silver leaf (known as ‘vark’ in Indian grocers), to serve (optional)


  • 1.

    Put the saffron in a small, heavy-based frying pan set over a medium heat. Stir it about until the threads turn a few shades darker.

  • 2.

    Put the milk in a cup and crumble in the saffron, then set aside for three hours.

  • 3.

    Wash the rice in several changes of water, then drain.

  • 4.

    Leave it to soak in 1.2 litres (2 pints) of water for 30 minutes.

  • 5.

    Drain and leave in the colander for 20 minutes.

  • 6.

    Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2.

  • 7.

    Heat the ghee in a wide, heavy-based, flame - and ovenproof pan over a medium heat. When it’s hot, put in the cardamom and cinnamon and stir them about for a second. Now put in the rice. Stir and sauté the rice gently for about three minutes, reducing the heat slightly if it

  • 8.

    Begins to catch.

  • 9.

    Add 325ml (11fl oz) of water, the food colouring and the salt.

  • 10.

    Now increase the heat back to medium and gently stir and cook the rice until all the water is absorbed. Pour in the saffron milk and stir in the almonds, sultanas and sugar. Cover very tightly and put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes.

  • 11.

    Remove the rice from the oven and stir, removing the cardamom and cinnamon as you do so. Spoon into a warmed serving dish and gently arrange some silver leaf on the top, if you like.

  • 12.

    Sprinkle with the extra sultanas and almonds to serve.

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