What’s cooking today: Begrafnisrys

The meal after a funeral would include begrafnisrys, the jewelled yellow funeral rice that still bears the name today, although in our times this dish is commonplace and not only brought out for a funeral or after-tears party.
Michael Olivier wrote that begrafnisrys was traditionally served in Cape Malay homes at large family gatherings such as funerals, cooked either as “droeërys” (dry rice) or “paprys” (wet rice) and that while saffron was used in earlier times, “turmeric is the current favourite spice used for colouring the rice”. The raisins, he added, were optional.
I chose to use a cinnamon stick with ground cumin (a winning aromatic for rice) and a few cloves in a nod to the old Cape spice tradition.
Ingredients
1 cup basmati rice
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp seedless raisins
2 Tbsp butter
Method
I cook rice like this: Rinse in a saucepan and pour the water off, four times. Measure 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves and stir in the salt, turmeric and cumin, then add the raisins. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then turn off the heat, cover with foil and put a lid on tightly. Leave it to steam for half an hour until cooked. If, when you check the rice, there is still any liquid at the bottom of the pot, cover, put the heat on for half a minute, turn off and leave it to finish steaming through. Add the butter and fluff it with a fork. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
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