This is a wonderful, rich rice dish that is subtly flavoured. Its sweetness makes it a perfect accompaniment to spicy Indian dishes, such as my Indian Baked Chicken. It is started off on the hob and then baked in the oven at a low heat to give perfect results every time.
The recipe assumes you are using salted butter. If you are using unsalted butter or ghee, increase the salt to ½ teaspoon. If you replace the butter with oil the dish is vegan and still very good.
Basmati rice measured to the 375ml (12 fl oz) level in a measuring jug
75g (3 oz) butter
12 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
9cm (3 ½ inch) cinnamon stick
450ml (15 fl oz) water
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
¼ tsp salt
80g (3 oz) sugar
30g (1 oz) flaked almonds
2 tablespoons sultanas
It is important to prepare the rice properly before you start cooking. Wash the rice in several changes of water to remove some of its starch content. Leave it to soak in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes, then drain it for 20 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.
Melt the butter in a wide, heavy flameproof pan and, when hot, add the cardamom and cinnamon. Stir them for a few seconds and add the rice. Stir and sauté the rice gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat down slightly if it begins to catch. Add the water, turmeric and salt. Stir gently until all of the water has been absorbed – the rice should be just simmering, not boiling. Add the sugar, almonds and sultanas and stir to mix. Cover the pan tightly and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.
When the time is up, tip the rice into a serving dish. Fluff it up with a fork, remove the cinnamon and it is ready to serve.
This rice dish reheats very well. It can be cooked well ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, simply reheat it in a microwave for 5 to 7 minutes.