Saffron, Wild Flower Honey & Rose Water
My first attempt at making a Saffron based Fruit Rice Pudding flavor is impossible for me to forget. The Legend of how wonderful Saffron is to cook & eat hadn't escaped me but I was new to its unique flavor. A lovely Middle Eastern lady from my sculpture class had explained that I need to cook the Saffron strands dry, in a frying pan to toast them. Then, I should use the back of a spoon to crumble them into a powder. Back in my production kitchen, that is exactly how I started my first Saffron recipe. The aroma took me by surprise. I added a very good quality wild flower honey sourced from McQuade Honey at the Ottawa Farmers' Market and I used a commercial bottled Rose Water to complete the flavor profile.
At this point, I was already a few years into making my fruit rice puddings for the markets, and experimenting with new flavors each week. Making this Saffron, Wild Flower Honey & Rose water rice pudding recipe for the first time, definitely made a big impression on me. It was my first time making a new flavor that I actually used my fingers to clean out every last trace of the rice pudding and sauce from the pot. I just couldn't get over how delicious it was and how utterly unique it tasted, not to mention the unbelievable fragrance and color! I was hooked. More than hooked.... I was a tad addicted to it's beauty.
When I hear Middle Eastern or East Indian friends talk about Saffron with such affection and how it instantly takes them back to childhood memories, I can honestly say, I think I get it! It is said to be the most expensive spice to buy. A good quality saffron usually runs about $10 for a 1 gram unit. Any middle Eastern type food market will carry it. Because of it's high price, it may be stored in a more secure location than with the other spices. If you can't find it, just ask one of the staff to point you to it. Anyway. Enough about me. I hope you try this one for yourself!
What you will need:
2 medium sized pots with lids, a strainer that sits inside of a bowl, a long metal spoon, a rubber spatula, measuring spoons & cups or a kitchen scale (if you have one), a heat proof/food safe container with lid, a small frying pan, a wire whisk (if you have one)
1 + 18 oz coconut milk (14 oz in a regular can)
13 oz Calrose medium grain rice
10 oz wild flower honey
1/2 tsp rose water
1/2 gram saffron filaments/threads (typically comes in 1 gram units)
Place the Calrose rice in the strainer that sits inside of a bowl. Rinse the Calrose rice under running water and strain. Repeat 2 more times. Set aside to drain.
In a dry frying pan, place the saffron threads. Place them over a low heat and toast the Saffron, using a spoon or rubber spatula to move them around the frying pan to dry out and darken slightly. Turn off the heat and allow them to cool. Using the back of a regular tablespoon, crush the Saffron threads to a powder, as much as you can. Place aside.
In a medium sized pot place the coconut milk, 30 oz of water, the wild flower honey, a 1/4 tsp of rose water and the crushed saffron threads. Place pot over a medium heat, covered, and allow it to come to a medium boil. Then continue to cover, reduce the heat to the lowest setting possible and allow to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
In a second medium sized pot place 32 oz of water and 1 oz coconut milk. Place pot over a medium heat and bring it to a medium boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting possible. Add the rinsed and drained Calrose rice and stir to ensure that the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cover the pot and set a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the rice to continue to cook and to absorb more liquid for an additional 10 minutes.
To the Saffron sauce, add an additional 1/4 tsp of rose water. Continue to simmer until the Calrose rice has rested for 10 minutes. Then add the hot cooked rice to the Saffron sauce. Using a wire whisk blend the rice into the sauce. Break up any clumps of cooked rice and incorporate well.
Empty the hot Saffron, Honey & Rose Water Fruit Rice Pudding into a heat proof/food safe container and cover. Place it on the counter or on a wire cooling rack for 15 to 20 minutes to cool. Now place the rice pudding in the fridge to cool completely. It will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Or, you may choose to portion and package some of your rice pudding into freezer grade containers to enjoy at a later time. They keep well in the freezer for months.
Consult our How to Freeze & Thaw Food Blog Post for best results. Consult our Simply Fruit Rice Puddings: Basic Ingredients post and our Basic Cooking Techniques Blog Post for more tips and tricks on making your own fruit rice puddings. Enjoy!
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