This is a vegan rice dish flavoured with harissa – a hot chilli pepper paste native to Algeria and Tunisia. The main ingredients in harissa are red peppers, olive oil, spices and herbs, including garlic, caraway seeds, coriander and cumin.
Rose harissa is made with rose petals and slightly less piquant. This recipe is a delicious combination of cooked rice with almonds and dates, garnished with pomegranate seeds and fresh dill.
It is a warming wintery main course that tastes as good as it looks!
Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour soaking
Cooking Time: 1 hours
Serves: 4 people
300g basmati rice
1 red onion – finely sliced
2 lemons – 1 juiced and 1 cut into wedges
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons harissa
2 garlic cloves – peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large or 2 small cauliflowers – stalk chopped, large leaves chopped, broken into florets
Pinch of saffron
2 bay leaves
700ml hot vegetable stock
100g dates – pitted
100g flaked almonds – toasted
3 tablespoons fresh dill plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
400g tin chickpeas – drained and rinsed
50g pomegranate seeds
Wash the rice really well, then leave to soak in cold water for 1 hour. Put the onion in a small bowl and toss with the lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of salt. Leave to pickle while you make the pilaf.
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°F fan / Gas mark 6.
Whisk 2 tablespoons of the harissa, garlic and oil in a bowl, then add the cauliflower and toss to coat in the sauce. Season, then transfer to a tray lined with baking parchment and roast for 30 minutes until tender and golden.
Mix the saffron, bay leaves, stock and 2 tablespoons harissa in a pan over a very low heat to keep warm while the cauliflower roasts.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven, tip into a dish and squeeze over the juice from one of the wedges.
Drain the rice and transfer to a roasting tin. Pour over the infused stock and mix well. Add the dates, chickpeas and half the cauliflower.
Cover with a double layer of foil or lid, then bake for 30 minutes until the rice is tender and stock is absorbed.
Fluff up the rice with a fork, then fold in the remaining cauliflower. Scatter over the dill, almonds, pomegranates, pickled red onions and remaining lemon wedges.