I’m so inspired by the foods of the Middle East - the flavours, colours and textures all work to stimulate the senses and to create dishes that are both vibrant and delicious. Middle Eastern food is really having a moment in mainstream cooking and I've been enjoying producing recipes from Palestine on a Plate, anything by Yotam Ottolenghi and Cook for Syria.
Christmas is full of spices and colours and nuts so it felt natural to create something with all of these ingredients. I love chestnuts but it can be such a faff to roast and peel them for a recipe alongside other cooking so I was extremely excited when I saw that Merchant Gourmet sells whole roasted chestnuts.
INGREDIENTS - Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
250g wild rice mix
150g whole roasted chestnuts - sliced
2 small red onions - finely sliced
60g pistachios - roughly chopped
1 large pomegranate - seeds only
5 cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
10g flat-leaf parsley - roughly chopped
10g coriander - roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Wash the rice with warm water well before bringing to the boil with the cardamom seeds, cinnamon and cloves with 3 times the volume of cold water.
Cook accordingly to the instructions until it is cooked through but slightly firm to the bite. Drain.
Meantime, heat up the olive oil in a shallow pan and slowly cook the red onions for about 7 min.
Add the crushed garlic and chestnuts and fry for a further 3 minutes.
Add the rice, half the pistachios and mixed spice and season well.
Mix well and warm through before adding the lemon juice.
Remove from the heat and mix through the herbs, remaining pistachios and pomegranate seeds before serving.