Are you looking for a tasty, unusual side dish which combines both sweet and savory flavors beautifully? If so, you might like to try this. Whether you are new to cooking dates or familiar with dishes like this one, you will agree the flavor in the finished rice dish is wonderful.
We are using basmati rice along with almonds, dates and raisins for crunch and sweetness. You will need some cinnamon and cloves for a warm, earthy touch, and some chilled butter chopped into pieces.
The cooked rice is layered with the fruit mixture and some butter, then warmed through, and served hot. This makes 4 portions. Try it with grilled chicken or duck, or try it with a vegetable side dish, if you are looking for an interesting meat-free meal. We recommend using Deglet Noor or Halawi dates for this, or you could use Medjools if you prefer, running a sharp knife under hot water before slicing the dates to make it easier.
What You Need:
1 cup basmati rice
Water, as needed
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chopped butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
2 tablespoons raisins
How to Make It:
First put the basmati in a heatproof bowl, then pour over boiling water to cover. Let it stand for 45 minutes, then drain through a fine-mesh strainer. Now put the drained rice in a pot with 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes, then let it stand for 15 minutes with the lid still on.
While the rice is simmering, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a pan and toast the almonds in there until they begin to turn brown. Stir them often. Now stir in the dates, cinnamon, cloves and raisins. Cook covered for 15 minutes or until the mixture is soft. Keep an eye on it - don't let it dry out.
Drain the rice and put half of it back in the pot. Press it down so it's in one even layer, then add a tablespoon of butter on top. Chop the butter into pieces first. Spread the date mixture over that, then add the remaining rice, and another tablespoon of butter. Invert a plate on top of the rice or add a clean, folded towel in the pan (to keep the moisture in) then put the lid back on and cook for 15 minutes over the lowest heat. Turn off the heat and let the rice mixture sit for 15 minutes, then invert on to a serving platter and enjoy.