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Saffron rice

Life is a process. Faith, food and relationships.

I struggled with going to the monastery with my husband this morning, mostly because we have to wake up very early as the days start very early there. But why not? We both had a day off and had a perfect opportunity. The sun gleamed through the stained glass. And although I felt my quads cramp up from prostrating to “Let my prayer arise!” For too long, I fell into a state of meditation and then grace.

Like with life itself, it’s a process to get to such a point just like cooking and especially learning to cook with spice.

It seems easy, but mistakes are common. If you substitute for something else, you may miss the mark completely. And is too much ever too much? In a word, yes. Is quality always important? Mostly, but sometimes you can get away with dried. And it’s a culinary sin to use canned garlic.

For those of us that work with what we got, I can sympathize and understand. Hey, and although the purists will still disagree, it’s better than omitting it. But around our kitchen, quality isn’t only our aim it’s encouraged.

There are a few spices where it’s important to aim for the latter. Saffron falls into this category.

Why?

  1. It’s unique aroma of floral and earthy is unmatched. It’s rare to find a substitute for it.
  2. Generic saffron (less than $10 worth) won’t carry the same quality of health benefits. Saffron is expensive because it’s plucked by hand. It takes 4,500 crocus flowers to make up one ounce of saffron spice.

Saffron is not turmeric though saffron has an immense away of health benefits on its own. It’s a good spice to have on hand for heart healthy diets and women monitoring their menstrual cycles as saffron contains the b6 vitamin to help with nerves and potassium to help with menstrual cramps among many other benefits.

The easiest way to make saffron is in white or brown basmati rice on the side of a frozen Indian meal for something quick or a lean protein and a vegetable. I make mine with a few other spices, a little turmeric and almonds. Once the rice is al dente, the sticky texture reminds me of a version of Rice a Roni only I don’t feel like I swallowed a brick, I just feel energized.

Isn’t that the way you want to feel too?

Saffron Rice

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet or red onion
  • 1 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads (check health food stores, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or ethnic Indian grocer)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cup brown basmati rice
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup of ground almonds

Method

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant and just starting to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add onion, stir to coat. Cook, stirring often until the onion is starting to brown and soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add saffron, thyme, smoked paprika and salt and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and increase heat to high. Stir thoroughly to make sure saffron threads are evenly distributed, and bring to a simmer.

3. Add rice, and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low or low to maintain a simmer, and cook until the bouillon has been absorbed and the rice is very tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Remover from the heat and stir in ground almonds and parsley.

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