Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Detox Persian Rice with Tomato & Saffron Sauce

It’s the 2nd weekend of my detox and it’s all going well! I’ve just made a lovely recipe from Max Tomlinson’s book, Clean Up Your Diet. Doing a detox is tough – there’s no getting around that. But there are so many benefits, including the fact that you find that you really appreciate the tastes, textures and aromas of foods in their pure state. And this recipe is a great example of that. I used puy lentils, and their nutty taste combines with the delicious sweet tastes from the nutmeg, pistachios, pine nuts and sweetened onions. Then there’s just enough lemon juice to give the whole dish a wonderful tanginess – and also to stop you wanting to add any salt to the dish. And all finished off with a great fresh tomato sauce and sprinklings of fresh coriander.

This recipe shows how when you cook vegetables very gently, you can bring out their deep, often sweet, flavours. To caramelize the onions here, there’s no sugar – but instead you cook them gently in water first to soften them and then gently fry them.

I have to admit that I didn’t bother to remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes – completely up to you whether you want to or not.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, seed-free

Preparation time 30 minutes     Cooking time 1 hour     Serves 2


140g/5oz/⅔ cup brown rice, rinsed
4 tbsp green lentils, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 litre/35fl oz/4½ cups water
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
450g/1lb ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbsp unsalted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted
20 gratings nutmeg
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lemon juice
2 pinches saffron threads
a small bunch coriander, to serve

  1. Put the rice, lentils, bay leaves and 900ml/30fl oz/scant 4 cups water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  2. Meanwhile, put the sliced onion, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 150ml/5fl oz/3⁄4 cup water in a frying pan over a medium to low heat and cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and sweet. Increase the heat to high and boil off any excess water, then cook the onions for about 8 minutes until brown and caramelized. Watch them carefully and stir frequently to prevent them burning.
  3. While the onion and rice are cooking, skin the tomatoes. Cut a cross in the top of each tomato and put them in a large heatproof bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover and leave for 10 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the water using a slotted spoon, and peel off the skin when they are cool enough to handle. Discard the seeds and roughly chop the tomato flesh.
  4. Put the chopped onion and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the saffron and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, raise the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened slightly but have not collapsed. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice.
  5. Drain the rice and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the pine nuts, pistachios, caramelized onions, nutmeg and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  6. Divide the rice between two plates and spoon over the tomato sauce. Scatter over the coriander and serve.

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