Saf­fron of San­tori­ni by Klearchos Kapoutsis

Per­sian Lentil Rice with Saf­fron, Roast­ed Pump­kin, Crispy Onions, and Dates

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves: 10 – 12


Chop­ping board

Sharp knife

Mea­sur­ing spoons

Large mix­ing bowl


Wood­en spoon


Large pot

Heavy bot­tomed saucepan with lid

Pas­try brush

Small bowl

Round serv­ing platter

Oven mit­tens



1 Kent pump­kin, peeled and cubed

4 – 5 medi­um brown onions, diced

1 15-oz. (400 g) can brown lentils, rinsed and drained

½ cup (100 g) gold­en raisins

½ cup (100 g) med­jool dates, quar­tered lengthwise

3 cups (400 g) bas­mati rice, rinsed and drained

2 table­spoons Per­sian Advieh spice blend

2 table­spoons salt

1 cup (250 ml) water for onions

3 cups (750ml) water to cook the rice

4 – 5 table­spoons extra-vir­gin olive oil


  1. Pre­heat your oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
  2. Place cubed pump­kin on a parch­ment-lined bak­ing tray and brush with approx­i­mate­ly 1 table­spoon of olive oil and sea­son with salt to taste. Bake until the pump­kin is light­ly browned and fork-ten­der, around 30 minutes.
  3. Mean­while, add the onions to a small saucepan and pour in 1 cup of water. Place over medi­um heat and cook, stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly, for 20 – 25 minutes.
  4. Once the water has almost ful­ly evap­o­rat­ed and the onions are translu­cent, add a table­spoon of olive oil and reduce the heat to low. Con­tin­ue cook­ing until the onions become gold­en and caramelised, around 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Add the Advieh spice mix and cook for anoth­er 1 – 2 minutes.
  6. Add the drained lentils, gold­en raisins, and med­jool dates and cook for anoth­er 2 – 3 min­utes. Sea­son with salt to taste and remove from heat. Set aside.
  7. To pre­pare the rice, pour 3 cups of water in a medi­um pot and bring to a full boil. Add in the rice and cov­er with a lid. Cook until the rice is bare­ly cooked, around 9 – 10 min­utes. Remove from heat and rinse the rice under cold water.
  8. In the same pot you used for the rice, heat two table­spoons of olive oil and add in the onion-lentil-raisin-date mix, baked pump­kin, and rice.
  9. Using the back of a wood­en spoon, dome the rice into a con­i­cal shape and using the han­dle, poke sev­er­al holes (almost reach­ing the bot­tom of the pot) into the rice. Replace the lid, putting a clean tea tow­el under it to ensure steam doesn’t escape. Cook on a low heat for approx­i­mate­ly 15 minutes
  10. Remove the lid, redome the rice, and driz­zle olive oil around the perime­ter of the pot. Increase the heat to medi­um, cov­er with a lid, and cook for anoth­er 3 minutes.
  11. When ready, the rice will make pop­ping and crack­ling nois­es and smell fra­grant and toast­ed. It should come away from the sides and bot­tom of the pot with no resis­tance, indi­cat­ing that the crispy crust has formed.
  12. Place a serv­ing dish direct­ly on top of the pot and wear­ing oven mitts or using tea tow­els, swift­ly and con­fi­dent­ly flip over the rice, like turn­ing a cake out of its pan. Gen­tly remove the pot and serve immediately.

Lainie Cadry is a new­ly reg­is­tered nurse and holds a New Grad­u­ate posi­tion at the Syd­ney Children’s Hos­pi­tal in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. Lainie’s cook­ing is influ­enced by her pas­sion for health and her diverse Jew­ish cul­tur­al her­itage from Per­sia and East­ern Europe. At 20 years old, Lainie was the youngest con­trib­u­tor pub­lished in the Mon­day Morn­ing Cook­ing Club’s third cook­book, It’s Always About the Food”. Lainie runs a kosher food Insta­gram account named Lainie’s Kitchen, where she reimag­ines tra­di­tion­al recipes with a fun, nour­ish­ing and soul­ful approach.