This golden pudding is infused with the luxurious, floral sweetness of saffron, the most expensive spice in the world. Just a little bit goes a long way here – steeping the saffron in hot water allows you to extract every last bit of flavor from the delicate strands. This pudding is so thick that it is served in slices, but it is by no means a rich, gastrically cumbersome dessert. Rather the opposite – alongside a platter of fresh fruit, it makes a wonderfully light and refreshing end to a meal.
You will need:
½ c. short-grain white rice
4 c. water
¾ c. sugar
1 tbsp butter or margarine
large pinch saffron threads
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ c. slivered or sliced almonds (plus extra to garnish)
cinnamon, to garnish
In a medium-sized pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice (do not rinse) and cook on medium-low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, steep the saffron in 1 tablespoon boiling water, for about 5 minutes – the water should turn a deep orange. Add the sugar to the rice and stir, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the saffron water (along with all of the strands), oil, cardamom, and almonds to the rice, stirring well to combine. Cover the pot and lower the heat to 1. Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes, then pour it out onto a large, clean platter. Allow the pudding to thicken and cool in the platter.
Once it has cooled, decorate the pudding with slivered almonds and a light dusting of cinnamon. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate the pudding at least 1 hour. To serve, simply cut out squares or slices of the pudding – it should be firm enough to hold its shape. Serve cold or at room temperature.
© Shaby Heltay, 2009