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Winter Curry With Saffron Cinnamon Rice

By Sophie Dahl

A warming winter dish that’s brimful of spices and comforting flavours.

Photography by Jan Baldwin

This winter curry with cinnamon saffron rice is sweet and filled with flavour, and you can tailor your garam masala to your own tastes, adjusting as you like. The rice is pretty foolproof, the method taught to me by Peter Begg, a man who knows about food.

  • Serves: 4-6
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes


  • 2 tbsp of safflower oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1kg pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 400g can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 250ml cups of vegetable stock
  • 400ml of coconut milk
  • Salt
  • 2 handfuls of mangetout
  • A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro

For the garam masala:

  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp of cloves
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 6 cardamom pods, seeds only

For the saffron cinnamon rice:

  • 300g basmati rice
  • 450ml water
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • A couple of cardamom pods
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. In a pestle and mortar, make the garam masala by crushing up and grinding all your dry spices.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed casserole or pan, heat the safflower oil and add the onions, sweating on a low heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir for another half a minute, taking care not to burn it.
  3. Add to this mix the garam masala and chilli and coat the onions with it. Add the pumpkin and the chickpeas/garbanzo beans and then pour over the stock, followed by the coconut milk.
  4. Season and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, add the mangetout, and cook for another five.
  5. To make the saffron cinnamon rice, put the rice in a sieve and rinse until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a large saucepan with the water, the butter, cardamom, saffron and cinnamon.

  6. Bring to a rolling boil, quickly turn the heat down, put a lid on the saucepan and then leave for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and take it to the table in the saucepan, because it looks like a painting.
  7. Serve with handfuls of coriander/cilantro.