As you all know, turkey is the most popular main for Christmas dinner in the UK. And of course parsnips and carrots on the side are just as important. Besides, sweet aromas of spices like cloves and cinnamon and fruits like clementines and oranges are the main reminders of the festive time of the year here.
So, I decided to go back to my roots and offer you a Persian equivalent to the usual Christmas dinner; fragrant carrot & parsnip rice with an easy-to-carve turkey roulade stuffed with barberries and nuts served with lemon & saffron gravy.
NOTE: The rice dish could be eaten by itself and is suitable for VEGETARIANS. To make it vegan, just swap the butter for vegetable oil.
Barberries: a type of sour berries. Used dried in Persian cuisine to add tartness and colour. Could be found in most Middle-Eastern super markets. Substitute with dried cranberries soaked in lemon juice for 5 minutes.
For the rice (v):
- 3 tbsp purified butter (could use vegetable oil to make the dish vegan)
- 2 large carrots, coarsely grated
- 1 large parsnip, coarsely grated
- 1/2 tsp ground saffron
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups (300 g) basmati rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
- 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained
- 1/4 cup candied orange peel (optional)
For the turkey roulade:
- 4 turkey breast steaks
- 2 tbsp dried barberries, soaked in hot water and drained (could use chopped dried cranberries instead which are soaked in some lemon/lime juice for 5 minutes)
- 2 tbsp ground almond
- 2 tbsp ground pistachios
- 2 tbsp ground walnuts
- 1/2 tsp ground saffron
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 ground black pepper
- juice and zest of half a lemon
- For the rice: Coarsely grate the parsnip and the carrots. Put a large frying pan on medium heat. When the pan is warm, add 2 tbsp of the oil/butter, then fry the parsnip and carrots until lightly softened and reduced (no more than 10 minutes). In a small cup, add 50 ml of boiling water to the saffron, stir and then add it to the pan. Add the cinnamon, season with salt and pepper and stir to mix. Set aside.
- Wash the starch off the rice in the pan under running water, then cover the rice with cold water. Add salt and put on medium-high heat. Let it come to boil. Meanwhile, skim any foam on the top.
- When the rice comes to boil, stir. Check the rice; it should have increased in length and be half cooked (still with a little bite to it). If so, drain in a colander. Wash the pan and dry it quickly. Put it back on low heat with 1 tbsp of oil/butter. Add half the rice in the colander, then mix with some carrot mixture. Repeat with the rest of the rice and carrots. Cover the lid with a tea towel and cook for 40 minutes. Serve with pistachios, almonds and orange peel pieces on the top.
- For the roulade: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix all the nuts & spices and season the steaks with salt and pepper. Cover each steak with the nut & spice mixture, then scatter the barberries/cranberries all over the steak. Carefully roll each piece tightly to create a log.
- Place the rolls in an oven-safe dish, brush the tops with saffron solution (ground saffron mixed with hot water), then place in the centre of the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes until fully cooked and juices run clear.
- For the gravy: gather the juices from the oven dish and pour into a pan. Add 1/4 tsp saffron, lemon juice and 50 ml of boiling water. Bring to boil. Serve alongside the roulade.