Saffron and cinnamon give this unusual pilaf a characteristically Azerbaijani flavour.
Preparation time: 20 min
Cooking time: 40-45 min
- For the pilaf
- 150 g/6 oz basmati rice
- 50 g/2 oz clarified butter
- For the qazmaq-crust
- 1 egg, 1-2 tbspns yoghurt, pinch of turmeric
- OR 100 g/4 oz plain flour, water
- OR 1 potato
- For the omelette
- 3 eggs
- 2 medium-sized onions
- a few drops of citric acid
- tspn sugar
- clarified butter
- salt & pepper
- pinch of cinnamon
- For the rice
- Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.
- Fill a large, heavy saucepan with water and add salt. Bring to the boil. Add the rice to the boiling water. Turn the heat down slightly but cook at a rapid boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to cook for too long or the finished rice will be sticky. To see if the rice is ready, take a couple of grains out of the pot and test them on your wet finger. The grain should be soft on the outside but still firm on the inside. When you bite into the grain or break it with a finger nail, the hard white interior should still be visible. Strain the rice through a rice colander.
- Prepare the crust or qazmaq: 3 varieties are given here. a) Mix together 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of the parboiled rice and 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt. Add some of the infused saffron water or a pinch of turmeric. OR b) For lavash qazmaq, make lavash by mixing together 1 glass (200 g/8 oz) of flour and a little water and butter. (Add 1 egg to the dough if you want an eggy flavour to the qazmaq.) Knead the dough until it is soft and roll out to a thickness of 3mm/0.2 inches. OR c) For potato qazmaq, peel and slice the potatoes widthways.
- Rinse and dry the rice pan. Return it to the heat and melt a generous knob of butter. Spread the qazmaq mixture, lavash or potato rounds over the bottom of the pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Spoon the parboiled rice gently on top of the qazmaq, taking care not to break the grains.
- When half the rice is in the pan, pour over some of the saffron infusion. Put the rest of the rice in the pan and pour most of the remaining saffron infusion over it. Put several knobs of butter on top. Make holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to escape. Place a well-fitting lid on top of the saucepan, covered underneath with a clean tea towel. The towel helps to absorb the steam. Once the rice is steaming, turn down the heat and leave to continue steaming for 30 to 45 minutes. The rice can be left to steam for longer without coming to any harm.
- Chop the onions and fry in butter in a small frying pan.
- Beat the eggs and add salt & pepper.
- Add the citric acid, sugar and beaten eggs to the onions. Cook over a medium heat. When the eggs are set, cut the omelette into pieces and turn the pieces over.
- Leave to cook for another 10 minutes until the eggs are cooked through.
- Serve the rice on a large dish or plate. Pour the remaining saffron infusion over the top of the rice and add some more knobs of butter. The rice should be an attractive combination of yellow and white. Serve the qazmaq in pieces on top of the rice interspersed with the slices of omelette. Sprinkle with cinnamon.