I wasn’t planning on putting up a post about the rice, but I had no choice. It over-shadowed one of EPC’s favourite dishes (Chickpeas and Green Beans) so much so that he went for seconds of the rice, not giving the entrée a second thought.
I asked him if the entrée had not turned as well as it had the last time I made it. Apparently it was still good, but next to the rice, nothing else stood a chance.
My husband declared that this dish is the best rice he has ever had and if he was served it for dessert he wouldn’t complain. It was sweet, but not overly so. There is no added sugar, but the 3/4 cup of dates, the cinnamon, and cloves move this rice dish out of the familiar realm of savoury first courses to tease the edge of dessert.
Between you and me, next time I make Chickpeas and Green Beans I will be sure to serve it with plain rice!
Dates with Rice (adapted from Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa by Habeeb Salloum) Serves 4-6
1 cup of brown basmati rice, rinsed
5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
3/4 cup of dates, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
- In a small pot bring water to a boil, add rice and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse with warm water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. When melted add almonds and saute until they begin to brown.
- Then add the dates, cinnamon, and cloves. Saute for 3 minutes.
- Add 1/3 cup of water and simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes. Make sure you stir often and add small amounts of extra water as necessary.
- Put 1/4 cup of water into a small saucepan (I reused the one that I cooked the rice in). Add half of the rice and top with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the date mixture and then top with the remaining rice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter.
- Top the pot with an inverted plate and simmer over low heat (about 2 on my range) for 7 minutes and then turn to very low heat for the remaining 8 minutes.
- Remove the rice from the heat, leave the lid on and let sit for an additional 15 minutes.
- Stir and serve.