A gently sweetened rice and potato bake perfumed with saffron, though it’s fried really, not baked, until crisp and golden. Use a mandoline to slice the potatoes as they need to be exactly the same thickness for even cooking. The saffron sugar syrup will continue to develop flavour and colour over a period of seven days so begin this step up to a week in advance.
Skill level Mid
1 tbsp ground turmeric
3 tsp saffron
pinch of salt
250 g long grain rice, soaked for 24 hours in cold water, drained
200 ml saffron sugar syrup
100 ml olive oil
300 g royal blue potatoes, sliced 3â€“4 mm thick with a mandoline
Saffron sugar syrup
1 generous pinch of saffron
160 g caster sugar
160 ml water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 24 hours
To make the saffron sugar syrup, combine the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, transfer to a sterilised jar and allow to steep for 24 hours before using. The syrup will keep for at least 6 months at room temperature.
Place the turmeric, saffron and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until combined. Combine the spice mix and rice in a medium saucepan, adding enough water to cover the surface of the rice by 2 cm. Place the saucepan over medium–high heat and cook for 10–12 minutes or until the all the water has evaporated and the rice is almost cooked but still a little crunchy in the centre. Remove from the heat and transfer the rice to a colander to drain. Allow to cool in the colander for 10–15 minutes. Pour the saffron sugar syrup over the rice in the colander and mix gently to combine, allowing the excess syrup to drain away.
Using a medium non-stick saucepan (18 cm–20 cm diameter) with walls that extend at least 6–7 cm above the base, add the oil and arrange the potato slices overlapping in a single layer, until the base of the saucepan is completely covered. Spoon in the saffron rice. Gently and evenly pack the rice down. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the potato begins to fry. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for a further 8–10 minutes or until the potato and rice around the edge of the pan are golden and crisp. Keep an eye on the heat during cooking as the potato can burn if the heat is too high.
Cover the saucepan with a plate and carefully invert the rice on to the plate. Serve immediately.