|Tony Tan recalls that Melbourne’s Shakahari restaurant
showed how the spices of Asia and Africa could be used
to breathe life into staples such as lentils and rice. Tan’s
Persian pilaf, pictured. Photo: Marina Oliphant
Author: Tony Tan
Time: < 30 mins
Special options: Vegetarian, Gluten-free
This dish is loosely based on a recipe from Margaret Shaida’s excellent cookbook, The Legendary Cuisine of Persia.
500 g basmati rice, washed
120 g green lentils
1/2 tsp turmeric
100 ml vegetable oil
60 g sultanas, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
120g stoned dates, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cm cinnamon stick
2 tbsp clarified butter
1 bunch spinach, stemmed, washed, blanched and dried
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
crisp-fried shallots to garnish
Soak the washed rice in water for about two hours. In a separate container, soak the lentils for one hour. Drain, cook lentils in a saucepan with sufficient water to cover until tender, about five minutes. Add salt to taste and drain well. Set aside.
Drain water from the rice and add to a pot and cover with fresh water 2cm above the rice. Add turmeric and salt to taste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn heat to very low, cover pot and transfer to a simmer mat and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and leave another five minutes. Uncover and fluff gently with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan, add the oil and briefly fry the dates with the sultanas. Remove with a slotted spoon and put aside. In the same oil, fry onions, garlic and cinnamon over gentle heat until fragrant. Remove and toss with date mixture.
Before serving, heat clarified butter and fry spinach briefly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix rice gently with lentils, date mixture, spinach, garnish liberally with fried shallots and serve.
Adopted from Good Food