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Iraqi rose rice with glazed pears

  • 25 minutes
  • 30 minutes
  • 4
Iraqi rose rice with glazed pears

An unusual combination of sweet rose water scenting savoury lamb or beef mince and spiced pilaf-style rice. The finished dish makes the simple ingredients used in its creation into something just a little bit exotic and wonderfully delicious in next to no time.


  • 2¼ cups long grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 350 grams lean beef or lamb mince
  • 2 teaspoons baharat spice mix
  • ¼ cup sultanas, raisins or diced dried dates
  • ½ cup whole almonds or pistachio nuts, toasted

Sugar-glazed pears

  • 2 pears, cut into sixths
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar


  1. Soak the rice in plenty of water and set aside for 20 minutes. In a jug, stir the rosewater, saffron and sugar together and set aside while the rice stands.
  2. Heat a dash of oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion for 10 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Drain the rice well and add to the pan with the stock and rosewater mix and stir well. Reduce the heat so that the stock murmurs and cook uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the stock.
  3. Heat a dash of oil in a separate pan and brown the mince, breaking it up with the back of a spoon. Have the heat high to ensure the mince browns well. Stir in the baharat spice blend and sultanas, raisins or dates and cook a further minute.
  4. Toss the mince through the rice, with the almonds or pistachio nuts and serve with glazed pears and a little melted butter to drizzle over the top. Garnish with fresh rose petals if wished.

Sugar glazed pears

  1. Pan-fry pears in a generous knob of butter, turning until golden on all sides. Sprinkle over the sugar and turn over a low heat until tender and gently glazed.


  1. Distilled from highly perfumed rose petals, rosewater has a heady almost intoxicating fragrance. Used here in a savoury it dish evokes images of the mystical tables of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Keep rosewater away from sunlight and use sparingly as its hedonistic fragrance can be overpowering. In baking rosewater partners well with vanilla desserts, is sensational with cream and rice dishes, perfumes summer fruits especially berries and will add summery nuance to winter citrus.

Serve mint tea

  1. On arrival at an office or a friend’s house in many Middle Eastern countries a soothing and refreshing glass of mint tea is immediately on offer. Prepared from heavily-sweetened usually green tea though black is also used, with handfuls of mint leaves added and left to infuse. Make mint tea at home with your preferred tea and use spearmint to attain the authentic mint flavour, adding leaves and lump sugar to the cup or glass when serving.

Baharat Spice

  1. An exotic and fragrant blend mix of “flowers and seeds” , popular in and around the Gulf States. Buy it or make my favourite recipe which comes from spice guru Ian Hemphill. Grind together : ½ - 1/3 cup cumin seeds, ¼ cup black peppercorns, 2 tablespoons each coriander seeds, cassia bark and whole cloves with 2 whole nutmegs (grated) 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds. Stir in ¼ cup fresh paprika (not smoked). Keep in an airtight container.

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