Created by chefs of the Moghul emperors, these dishes were originally highly complicated with many layers of rice, meat, fish and vegetables, all spiced in different ways. The rice is partly cooked before the dish is composed, and then baked in the oven. This recipe makes eight generous servings.
1 large onion and 5garlic cloves, finely chopped
5-cm/2-inch piece root ginger, finely sliced
juice of 1lemon
225g/½lb each spinach, parsnips and swede/rutabaga, chopped small
1head of celery, chopped small
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic, ginger and first spices until the onion is soft. Add the lemon juice, vegetables and salt. Cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the rice in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and set to one side. Warm the milk and soak the saffron in it. Heat a little oil and fry the onion. Add the milk, saffron and stock. Pour in the rice and heat, then strain again, reserving the liquid. Place half the rice in the bottom of an oven dish. Scatter the second lot of spices over it. Cover with the vegetables and then the remaining rice. Pour in the stock. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Garnish before serving.