Denise says:

  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, tip into a dish and squeeze over the juice from one of the wedges.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.