Ottolenghi's saffron, date and almond rice
400g basmati rice
Salt and white pepper
110g unsalted butter
100g whole Zaytoun almonds, skin on, roughly chopped
80g Zaytoun Medjoul dates, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp saffron threads soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
Rinse the rice well under running cold water, then put it in a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water and stir through two tablespoons of salt.
Leave it to sit for one to two hours, then drain and wash again, this time with lukewarm water.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add two more tablespoons of salt, then add the rice and boil gently for three to four minutes, until almost cooked.
Check by trying a grain - it should still have a bit of bite to it.
Drain, rinse under lukewarm water and set aside to drain.
In the same pan, melt 80g of the butter and sauté the almonds for four minutes, until slightly golden. Add the dates, cook for a couple of minutes more, then stir through half a teaspoon of white pepper, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and half the rice. Gently flatten this down, then spoon the remaining rice on top.
Melt the remaining butter and pour over the top, along with three tablespoons of water. Cover the pan with a tight lid and cook on the lowest possible heat for 35 minutes.
Turn off the heat, spoon over the saffron and its water, cover with a tea towel, put the lid back on and set aside for 10 minutes.
Serve hot, using a large spoon so that you have portions in which the two layers are distinct and separate.