Pine Nut & Sultana Pilav

The ancient Persians gave us pilav. Nobody created rice dishes like them, with their mix of nuts, spices and fruits. They created a wonderful dish of their own, but great served with stews and meats to bring out even more taste. Not to mention how good they look. They’re not difficult to make either! This Turkish pilav uses my favourite nut – pine nuts, an ingredient I don’t often cook with – I tend to use it more as a garnish, but it was really great incorporated into the rice before cooking.

200g basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion (finely chopped)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
50g pine nuts
2 tablespoons sultanas
400ml chicken stock
salt & pepper
20g butter

Rinse the rice in cold water through a fine sieve until the water runs clear. Set aside.

Heat a large sauce pan with the oil, over a moderate heat. Fry the onion for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned. Add the pine nuts and cook for a further 2 minutes until golden brown. Add the cinnamon, allspice, sultanas, salt & pepper and stir briefly. Add the rice and stir well for 1-2 minutes to ensure all the grains are coated in oil. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan tightly and simmer very gently for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the lid, quickly dot the surface with the butter, place a tea towel over the top of the pan, then tightly cover again. Leave for 10 minutes. Stir well just before serving.

Serve as is, or garnish with some toasted pine nuts or pomegranate seeds and a little parsley for colour.

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