Of Bad Weather, Broken Fridge and Saffron Rice

Swedish April weather has turned to [you-know-what].

Yes, yes, I know it could be worse, it could be raining. To which I can only add that it’s not raining right now, but it rained earlier today. And yesterday. The flowers are happy, and the hypothetical ducks would be, except it’s also windy. You get the idea.

On top of the lovely natural phenomenon that is Swedish April weather (typical, I am informed), our fridge decided to bite the dust. Or perhaps fall into a coma – the freezer works, the light and electronic display in/on fridge do also. It just doesn’t cool. The lights are on, but there’s nobody home – quite literally. So, as a result of this, my milk is on the balcony enjoying the cold concrete alongside the box of feta and bucket of Turkish yogurt, and I am not buying anything fresh and perishable. The repairpeople are finally coming tomorrow, but in the meantime, all things considered, I felt I deserved some comfort food for all the weather changes and distress and despair of fridgelessness.

And what sort of make-me-happy food can one turn, fridgeless? The answer (for me, anyway) is saffron rice.

… with raisins and harissa

I mean, what’s not to like? It’s pretty, it’s aromatic, and full of starch, which, while I abhor for the sake of my figure, IS a mood elevator.  Best of all, it takes all of 20 minutes to make, and is made out of stuff found in the pantry, no fridge (or its contents) required.  Or at least it is certainly found in my pantry (and yours if you like).

Here’s what you need:

  • 1.5 dl jasmine or basmati rice (any long-grain not-sticky rice will do in a pinch.  I don’t use parboiled, it tastes yucky.)
  • Enough water (see your package) to cook by evaporation (no-drain) method + 3-4 tablespoons (the added water is to account for absorption by raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon refined canola oil or butter
  • A large handful of raisins
  • 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon harissa (to taste – CAUTION, HOT!)
  • Pinch of ground cumin (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • Fresh (lemon) thyme (it’s not in my pantry, it’s growing on my windowsill, just as unaffected by fridgelessness as the box of rice and running water)

What to do:

  • Boil water in a pan and add salt and saffron threads.  Crush saffron a little with fingers as you add it.
  • Once water is boiling, add rice, oil or butter, and cumin if using.
  • Stir and reduce heat to low.
  • Add raisins and harissa immediately and stir in.
  • Cover and cook for 15 minutes or as per package directions.
  • Take off heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff with fork, place into bowl, sprinkle with snipped thyme.

Devour.  Instant happiness!

Notes:  I love salt.  I mean it.  So I usually sprinkle this sweet-scented and well-raisined dish with some more salt flakes as I eat it.   Also, I love harissa.  But if you are afraid of hot spices, you can safely omit it entirely, or substitute 1/3 teaspoon of Ras-Al-Hanout.


One thought on “Of Bad Weather, Broken Fridge and Saffron Rice

  1. Persian people taught me one very nice modification to the rice cooking: boil rice in a larger amount of water (with saffron, or turmeric) until half-cooked (a little bit tough inside) and than drain the water, add olive oil, close the lid with the kitchen towel underneath, and place on a low heat for another 15 min. At the end the rice is even better that if you evaporate all the water.

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