Ottolenghi’s Baked Rice

I was drooling over every photo in a New York Times magazine article featuring a home banquet prepared by Yotam Ottolenghi. I wanted it ALL on my plate. But, preparing all of the beautiful dishes at once by myself was another story completely- too large of an undertaking. 😦 This baked rice was at the top of my list. Two heads of garlic! Fourteen shallots! Fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I used the zest of one half of a lemon and 1 teaspoon of curry masala instead of fresh or dried curry leaves. I also baked the rice in an enameled cast iron pan with a lid instead of transferring the garlic and shallots to an aluminum foil-covered baking dish before baking them with the rice. We ate it for dinner with grilled chicken thighs seasoned with a Pilpelchuma spice blend, Hummus, Tomato and Pomegranate Salad, Deconstructed Baba Ghanouj, and warm naan. Our own banquet. 🙂  Amazing.

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves peeled
  • 12-14 medium-size shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 whole sprigs fresh curry leaves, left on stem, or substitute a handful of dry curry leaves, or 1 tsp curry masala
  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons boiling water for 30 minutes
  1. Heat oven to 425, preferably on convection.
  2. Put the oil into a sauté pan set over medium heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic cloves, shallots and lemon zest, and cook, tossing occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the garlic is golden brown and soft.
  4. Add the sprigs of curry leaves, if using, or the curry masala, and cook for approximately 2 minutes more, or until the leaves are starting to crisp.
  5. Pour the garlic and shallots into a large ovenproof baking dish, approximately 10 by 14 inches, and spread the rice over the vegetables in an even layer. (If using a large pan with a lid, keep vegetables in the same pan but spread evenly along the bottom before adding the rice.)
  6. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt over the rice, and then pour 3 1/2 cups of boiling water over the rice. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil (or a tight-fitting lid), and place in the oven for 30 minutes or so, until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is light, fluffy and starting to turn crisp around the edges.
  7. Remove the dish from the oven, uncover and drizzle the saffron and its soaking water over the dish. Re-cover the dish with the aluminum foil or the lid, and allow it to sit on the stove top for another 5 or 10 minutes. Serve.

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