Orange Saffron Rice.
Do you ever just get bored of rice? I mean, really bored of it. It’s such a shame because rice is the perfect accompaniment to so many dishes due to its texture and its flavour absorbent properties but damn it, it can become monotonous. Many times I have planned a dish to feed a friend and have thought rice would go perfect with the dish but have then found myself staring at the packet in frustration thinking… how can I make this better? Well this here, is better.
My ex-partner and I once ate at a Chinese restaurant where yellow rice was served to us with slices of orange. The theory was great but the execution was questionable. So one day I was planning a Keralan curry (more on this in the next post) and I realised such a dish would require an equally opulent side dish. That was then this recipe came to me in an apparition.
I figured that by balancing the flavour of the orange with the pungent yet distinctly floral snip of the saffron would really bring the rice to life, without being too extravagant that it doesn’t distract from the main meal it is accompanying. I’m not going to lie, the turmeric is more of a vanity addition because I really wanted the rice colour to emulate a famous brick road however it does add a particular depth to the dish.
Okay, yes, saffron can be a little bit on the expensive side but that’s probably because you’re looking at the high end prices in those glossy green supermarkets that will convince you to buy a single strand for the price equivalent of a small car. Fool is you. Go to your local market! My local market does saffron threads for £5 for a small jar and it last ages. Look for dark saffron – the darker and richer the colour, the better the flavour.
To a pan with a tight fitting lid add a cup of long grain white rice and two cups of cold water from the tap and switch on the heat. Add a few strands of saffron to a small dish and squeeze in the juice of half an orange. When the rice comes to a boil, add some sea salt, a pinch of turmeric (watch your hands for staining) along with the juice of the other half of the orange. Clamp on a lid, lower the heat to your lowest setting and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, to the pan of rice add the saffron and it’s orange juice, stir quickly with a fork and put the lid back on and cook for a further 5 – 7 minutes. Once the water has been absorbed, fluff up the rice with a fork before scattering over some coriander. I have also been prone to grate some orange zest into the rice also but if you don’t want the extra washing up, nobody is going to judge you.
This dish is perfect to accompany a curry, however I have also served this alongside the Ginger Sesame Glazed Pork Steaks a few posts back. Like I said, the flavours here work well with each other in terms of a tropical undertone that lifts the texture, however they do not override any flavours of the dish they are accompanying.