Jeweled Basmati Rice with Winter Squash and Currants from Moro East

-Soak 1½ cups of basmati rice in warm salted water for 1 hour.

-Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

-Peel 1 winter squash and cut it into 1 inch pieces.

-Toss the winter squash with 2 TBS olive oil and ½ tsp sea salt.

-Spread it in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes until tender.

-In a heat safe bowl mix a big pinch (about 50 strands) of saffron with 3 TBS boiling water.

-Add in 2 TBS unsalted butter, which should melt. Set the saffron aside.

-Thinly slice and dice 1 fennel bulb or 4 stalks of celery.

-Heat 4 TBS unsalted butter in a medium saucepan.

-Add in the following:

A 6 cm piece of cinnamon stick

4 crushed allspice berries

-Then add the fennel/celery and ½ tsp sea salt.

-Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the onion is soft.

-Add the following:

1 TBS currants

¼ cup shelled/unsalted pistachios

½ tsp ground cardamom

-Cook for 10 minutes more.

-Drain the rice and add it to the pan.

-Stir together for a minute or two.

-Pour in 2¼ cups stock and stir well.

-Scatter the roasted squash on top of the rice.

-Cover with a circle of parchment paper, then cover with a tight fitting lid.

-Cook over high heat until boiling, then reduce heat and cook another 5-10 minutes until rice is tender.

-Remove paper and drizzle with the buttery saffron water.

-Replace the lid and leave to rest off the heat for 5-10 minutes.