I love this dish, I wouldn’t have thought of coating the nuts in honey and chilli flakes, but Selma Helck in the Lebanese Kitchen does exactly that. I have changed the recipe in a few ways but the nuts are still the stars of this dish, sweet and slightly spicy with a golden colour and lasting nutty taste and texture, they are little surprises every time you eat one. They give the dish a depth and move it beyond just rice with some spices. If you are having guests then serving it with roast shoulder of lamb and fattoush makes a great meal.
100 g / 3½ oz flaked almonds
275 g / 10 oz basmati rice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
150 g / 5 oz vermicelli (optional)
2 tbsp oil
100 g / 3 ½ oz walnuts, cashews or whole almonds
2 tbsp honey
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp chilli flakes
100 g / 3 ½ oz raisins
100 g / 3 ½ oz flat leaf parsley
100 g / 3 ½ oz
4 – 6
Total carbohydrate per portion if serving four – 92 g
1. Toast the almonds in the oven and then leave the oven on at 170C / 325F.
2. Soak the rice in hot water for ten minutes and then drain it.
3. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a largish pan that has a lid. Once the oil is hot break up the vermicelli into short strands and add it to the pan. Stir frequently until the vermicelli is brown and remove from the pan.
4. Put the pan back on the heat and add the second tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add in the rice, salt and cumin, stir to combine and then cook for one minute.
5. Now add 500ml of boiling water to the rice mixture and put the lid on. Keep the heat high until you hear the water is boiling or see steam escaping from around the side of the lid. Then turn the heat right down. In ten minutes turn the heat off, leaving the lid on, the rice will be cooked.
6. Heat a frying pan and dry roast the walnuts until they have some colour.
7. Add the honey, turmeric and chilli flakes and stir together. Cook for a minute. Pour the nuts onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Cook in the oven for ten minutes.
8. While the nuts are cooking, chop the parsley and and mix them with the almonds and raisins into the rice.
9. When the nuts are cooked. Let them cool and harden up and then scatter on the top of the rice and serve.