Minnesota Spoon: Sameh Wadi’s last meal

Persian Jeweled Rice


Jeweled Rice // Photo by Wing Ta

Yield: 6 servings, adapted from “The New Mediterranean Table”


  • 3 cups basmati rice, rinsed and dried
  • ¼ pounds unsalted butter
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed lightly
  • 1 teaspoon (~0.9 grams) saffron threads
  • Sea salt


  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup dried apricots, sliced
  • ½ cup dried barberries or currants; soaked in hot water for
    two minutes
  • ½ cup blanched whole almonds, fried in oil
  • ½ cup Iranian pistachios, lightly crushed


  • Edible rose petals or dried rosebuds
  • Micro cilantro or small cilantro leaves
  • Chives, cut into 1-inch pieces


Toast the saffron threads in a pan over low heat for 20 seconds, then crush with the back of a spoon. Pour 1/2 cup warm water over saffron, steep for at least 20 minutes. Reserve.

Place the rice in a fine mesh colander or strainer and rinse under cold water while gently swishing it around with your fingertips until the water runs clear. Reserve.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods and cook over moderate high heat until the butter starts to brown lightly, about 1 minute. Add the rinsed basmati rice and stir to coat with the butter, season with salt. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil, continue to cook until most of the water is absorbed, add the saffron water concentrate and swirl with a spoon, making sure not to completely mix the rice and saffron water. Cover and cook over very low heat until the water is completely absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and keep warm.

To finish, spoon the rice into a large serving platter and garnish with the “jewels.”

Whole Roasted Lamb Leg with Arabic Spices


Lamb leg with Arabic spices // Photo by Wing Ta

Yield:  8–10 servings


  • 1 lamb leg, 4 to 6 pounds, fat cap trimmed and patted dry
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Baharat-style spice blend (like Wadi’s Se7en Spice)
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves, toasted and ground
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, toasted and ground
  • 3 tablespoons thick plain yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 38 garlic cloves
  • 2 ½ small yellow onions, (2 quartered, ½ roughly chopped)
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt


In a food processor or blender, combine ½ cup se7en spice, cloves, black pepper, yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 8 garlic cloves, and chopped onion, process until you have a very smooth paste. Generously coat and rub lamb with the marinade and refrigerate for 6–24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Bring lamb leg to room temperature and rub with oil, reserved se7en spice, and generously season with salt. Place carrots, quartered onions, and remaining (30) garlic cloves in ovenproof casserole or roasting pan. Place the lamb on top of the vegetables with the fat side up, cover with foil and cook for 3–4 hours. Remove the foil and continue cooking for 1 ½–2 hours basting with the drippings regularly, until the meat is well browned and fork tender. Remove from oven and let the lamb rest, lightly covered in foil, for 20–30 minutes.

Carefully remove the meat from the pan and place on serving platter. Pour the roasting liquid into a container, let stand for 5 minutes and then skim off the fat that has risen to the top. Drizzle reserved roasting liquid and lemon juice over the meat and vegetables and serve.

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