FOOD: The King of Spices

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FOOD: The King of Spices

Give your cooking the royal treatment with saffron-inspired recipes

Saffron chicken and rice with barberries
Saffron chicken and rice with barberries

What better way to celebrate a coronation than with the king of spices – saffron, renowned to be loved by royalty from exotic India to ancient Persia. Majestic saffron chicken served over rice bejewelled with onions and barberries would be the crowning glory of any coronation banquet. Bastani, an ice cream adorned with pistachio, rose and the regal spice is the perfect accompaniment to Bamieh, cloud-like fried dough balls, soaked in a saffron syrup. A feast fit for a king, a royal family, and your own family and friends.


Saffron Chicken


–          1 whole chicken (cut into pieces if you wish)

–          1 tsp of bloomed saffron

–          1 carton of passata

–          Salt and pepper to taste

–          1 large onion, sliced

–          Olive oil for frying



–          Fry the onions in the olive oil in a large shallow dish that can go into the oven

–          When they are halfway done, put the chicken in and begin to brown together

–          In a pestle and mortar, grind a teaspoon of saffron. Add an ice cube and grind until it melts and you have an infused liquid

–          Once the onions are cooked and the chicken is brown, take the chicken out of the pan and set to one side

–          Pour over the passata, the bloomed saffron, salt and pepper. The liquid should come approx 1 – 1½ cm deep. Add a little water if needed

–          Put the chicken back into the pan and spoon the sauce over

–          Put into a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees for 1 hour. Baste the chicken with the sauce and check that it isn’t burning. If it is, cover with foil for the remainder of the cooking time

–          Serve over rice

Baked Rice with barberries and onions


–          3 cups of washed basmati rice

–          3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

–          A heaped tsp of salt

–          6 cups of water

–          3 large onions

–          Olive oil for frying

–          Half a cup of barberries

–          2 tsp of sugar (use more, or less to your taste preference)



–          Wash the rice well until the water runs clear

–          Put into a round dish that can go into the oven

–          Cover the rice with the 6 cups of boiling water, plenty of salt and the extra virgin olive oil

–          Mix well and cover with foil and then a lid

–          Put into the oven on 140 for 3 hours. This can sit in the oven longer until serving.

–          Fork the rice through to fluff up before serving and tip into a large serving dish

–          Whilst the chicken and rice are cooking, slice the onions and fry in plenty of olive oil with the barberries and sugar until it they have melded together and the onions are dark and caramelised

–          Once you have turned the rice out onto your serving platter, scatter the onions on top and serve



Bastani (no-churn Persian saffron and rosewater ice cream)



–          1 tin of condensed milk

–          2 tbsp of bloomed saffron (saffron ground up with an ice cube)

–          2 tbsp of rosewater

–          1 ½ tsp of ground cardamom

–          2 cups of double cream

–          ½ cup of ground pistachio (plus more for presentation)



–          Place a mixing bowl in the freezer

–          In a separate bowl, mix the condensed milk, bloomed saffron, rose water and ground cardamom and leave to one side

–          Take the bowl out of the freezer. Pour in the two cups of cream and whisk until stiff peaks form

–          Fold in the saffron mixture and the ground pistachio

–          Pour the mixture into a loaf tin and freeze for at least 8 hours

–          Serve with more of the ground pistachio mixture sprinkled on top




Bamieh (golden dough balls soaked in rose syrup)


–          2 cups of sugar

–          2 cups of water

–          ¼ cup of rose water

–          ½ tsp of ground cardamom

–          ¼ tsp of saffron


–          Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved and it has thickened



–          1 cup of water

–          4 oz butter

–          ½ tsp salt

–          1 cup of flour

–          3 eggs


–          Bring the water to a boil with the butter and salt

–          Add the flour and mix quickly until a ball of dough detaches from the sides

–          Set aside and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes

–          Using the dough hook on a mixer, add each egg, one by one. Do not add the next until the each one is incorporated

–          Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a star nozzle on the end

–          Heat up the oil to 180 Celsius

–          Squeeze 1 inch pieces of dough out of the bag and snip each one into the hot oil

–          Wait for them to become golden and puff up

–          Take the bamieh out of the oil and let them drain on paper and cool slightly

–          Once cooled, dunk each one into the beautiful syrup for a minute.

–          Take them out and serve either warm or at room temperature

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