Food and drink! Jewelled Persian rice

Food and drink! Jewelled Persian rice

This week's recipe is extracted from 'Just A French Guy Cooking' by Alex Gabriel Aïnouz

This recipe might have been called: “How to finally master the art of cooking basmati rice, make it really colourful and pretty with saffron, and add different sweet and savoury textures”. I then said to myself, “maybe that’s a bit long for a title,” but it does tell you everything you need to know.


  • 350g (1¾ cups) of the best basmati rice you can buy
  • 12 saffron threads
  • 1 large orange
  • 50g (2oz) shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 2 tbsp dried barberries (or chopped sour cherries)

1. Put the rice in a large bowl and pour over enough cold water to cover. Stir with your hand and when the water becomes cloudy, replace it with fresh.

2. Repeat this process at least three times. The reason is that by soaking and rinsing the rice, you get rid of the natural starch it contains that makes the grains stick together as they cook.

3. Cover the rice with fresh water one last time and let it soak for 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and run cold water through to rinse it.

4. Tip the rice into a saucepan and add 900ml (3 ¾ cups) cold water.

Extracted from Just A French Guy Cooking by Alex Gabriel Aïnouz, published by Quadrille, priced £15. Available now.

5. Crush the saffron threads and place in a small, heatproof jar. Add two tablespoons of boiling water and screw the lid on the jar.

6.  Bring the rice to the boil, lower the heat, put a lid on the pan and stand the warm, sealed jar on top. Leave the jar there while simmering the rice for 10 to 12 minutes.

7. Now remove the jar, leave the lid on the pan and let the rice sit for five minutes. Finally, lightly fork through the grains to fluff them up.

8. Transfer half the cooked rice to a bowl and pour in the infused saffron. Stir gently with a fork until the liquid from the saffron has been absorbed by the rice.

9 Using a speed (swivel) peeler, shave the zest from the orange in wide ribbons and then cut these into very fine strips. Chop the pistachios.

10. Spoon the white rice and yellow rice into a shallow dish and add half the strips of orange zest, half the pistachios and half the barberries.

11. Stir gently to mix everything together, but without crushing the rice grains, and scatter over the remaining orange zest, pistachios and barberries.

  • Extracted from Just A French Guy Cooking by Alex Gabriel Aïnouz, published by Quadrille, priced £15. Available now.
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