Cardamom, or Hail, helps digestion and detoxifies the body – perfect after all that winter comfort eating!  

Warm up your evenings with Norinj Pilau, or Rice with Orange, a sweet and spicy Afghan dish that has a delicate flavour.

Ingredients - Serves 4

450g long grain white rice (basmati)

75 ml vegetable oil

2 medium onions chopped

1 medium chicken or 700-900 g lamb on the bone cut in pieces & excess fat trimmed (Cauliflower can be used instead)

570 ml water, plus 110 ml water

Peel of 1 large orange

50 g sugar

50 g blanched and flaked almonds

50 g blanched and flaked pistachios

½ tbp saffron

25 ml rosewater

1 tsp ground cardamom seeds

Salt and pepper

Method

Measure out the rice and rinse several times until the water remains clear. Add fresh water and leave the rice to soak for at least half an hour. Heat the oil and add the chopped onions. Stir and fry them over a medium to high heat until golden brown and soft. Add the meat and fry until brown, turning frequently. Add 570ml of water, salt, and pepper and cook gently until meat is tender. If using cauliflower, cooking time will be quicker. Make sure the pieces do not become too soft.  

While the meat or cauliflower is cooking, wash and cut up the zest of a large orange into matchstick-sized pieces, removing as much pith as possible. To remove any bitter taste, put the orange strips into a strainer and dip first in boiling water and then the cold. Repeat several times. Set aside.

Make a syrup by bringing to the boil 110ml of water and the 50g of sugar. Add the orange peel, the flaked almonds and pistachios to the boiling syrup. Boil for about 5 minutes, skimming off the thick froth when necessary. Strain and set aside the peel and nuts. Add the saffron and rosewater to the syrup and boil again gently for another 3 minutes. Add the ground cardamom.

To cook the rice, strain the chicken stock (setting the meat to one side), and add the syrup. Make the syrup and stock (If vegetarian, vegetable stock can be made separately and added) up to 570ml by adding extra water if necessary. The oil will be on the surface of the stock and this should also be included in the cooking of the rice. Bring the liquid to the boil in a large casserole. Drain the rice and then add it to the boiling liquid. Add salt, the nuts and the peel, reserving about a third for garnishing. Bring back to the boil, then cover with a tightly fitting lid, turndown the heat to medium and boil for about 10 minutes until rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed.

Add the meat or cauliflower, the remaining peel and nuts on top of the rice and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Put into a preheated oven – 150 degrees Celsius (gas mark 2) for 20-30 minutes. Or cook over a very low heat for the same length of time.

When serving, place the meat in the centre of a large dish, mound the rice over the top and then garnish with the reserved orange peels and nuts. 

Enjoy!

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