Moroccan Menu: Beautiful Rice

Recently, a group of my friends and I got together and had a Moroccan-inspired dinner party. We eat, we drank, we laughed and generally had a grand time. I told another friend about it a few days later and he wondered if Moroccan food is difficult to make. It made me wonder how many people out there are missing out on this fantastic cuisine because they are intimidated. So, this week, I'm sharing a few recipes from that dinner party. This time around, we're talking rice:

What made this a perfect recipe for entertaining was the combination of a finished dish that's simply beautiful combined with a preparation technique that really boils down to "toss this stuff together and let the rice cooker do the rest." I really have a hard time arguing with a recipe like that! What's more, you could stir together everything but the yogurt and water in advance and just add the remaining two ingredients when it's time to cook.

Now, I opted to stick with just raisins and apricots in this version. However, you could also easily add chopped dates, golden raisins, or various nuts. That said, if you opt to do so, make sure you keep the total volume of added dried fruits about the same, to avoid scorching. Also, keep the nuts out of the rice cooker and add them at the end when you are turning the rice into a serving dish.

Now, this recipe is presented in the context of a menu that also involves clay pot vegetables and beef kebabs. That said, this rice is equally at home alongside any number of dishes. It pairs beautifully with poultry or pork, for instance. If you opt to increase the variety of the dried fruits and nuts, it can quickly become a stellar centerpiece in a vegetarian feast. However you choose to serve it, it's likely to find itself on the short list of favorite sides. I know that's the case in my home!

Fruited Moroccan Rice

  • 2 cups rice
  • Large pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods, crushed gently
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red raisins
  • 3 T. plain yogurt (optional)
  • Water, according to recipe instructions

Place the first 5 ingredients (rice through olive oil) in a rice cooker and stir vigorously to evenly coat the rice with oil and spices. Add the remaining ingredients (omit the yogurt for vegan or yogurt-sensitive diets), stir again, and then add enough water to cover everything in the cooker by about 1-inch. Plug the rice cooker in and turn it on.

When the cooker clicks to the warm setting, carefully turn the rice and check for doneness. If needed, add more water and continue cooking. Turn the finished rice out into a serving bowl and serve immediately. Note: some of the rice will brown at the bottom of the cooker. This is normal and desired in this dish. Simply stir the browned bits into the finished rice and serve.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25-35 minutes