This is insane.  I was grinning the whole time I was making, photographing, and eating this spectacular rice.

A while back the New York Times ran a version of this classic spiced rice, which is sometimes called Persian Wedding rice. Dried cherries, apricots, figs, pistachios and pomegranate seeds glisten like little gems scattered throughout this beautiful dish.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to a simple roasted chicken, and wouldn’t it be just amazing on a Thanksgiving table?

 

When I made my Saffron Rice I learned that true basmati rice only comes from India.  When I was at my regular grocery store I was surprised to find a 10 lb burlap sack of Indian basmati, complete with a zipper and handles!  I felt very exotic and chic walking out with my basmati tote bag  But seriously, look for genuine Indian basmati, you’ll taste the difference and you’ll be helping to support the dna of an ancient rice, as well as the farmer’s who grow it.

This rice is a feast for the senses.  It’s exquisitely flavored with saffron, which gives it its golden color, along with  cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice.  You’ll bite down on toasted fennel and cumin seeds which will release alternate bursts of flavor.

The finely juilienned lemon rind adds a surprising amount of citrus aroma to the rice.

This little zesting tool will give you super fine ribbons of pure zest, with none of the bitter white part.  I love this tool and use it a lot.

I chose apricots, tart cherries and figs, but you could also use cranberries, golden raisins, goji berries, or the authentic Middle Eastern barberries, if you can find them.

I discovered a new easy way to separate the seeds from a pomegranate…you slice part way into the fruit, and then pull it apart into two.  Then slice part way into each half and pull them apart into four pieces.  Then, fill a large bowl with water and, under water, gently pull apart each quarter, nudging out the seeds with your fingers.  The seeds will fall to the bottom and the pith will rise to the top…no mess!

Persian Jeweled Rice

Yield: serves 4-6

What You Will Need

  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1.4 tsp cumin seeds
  • a rounded 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • a rounded 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • a rounded 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed well
  • 2 bay leaves
  • finely julienned rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup dried Turkish apricots, diced
  • 1/4 cup dried figs, diced
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted
  • seeds of 1 pomegranate for garnish

Instructions

  1. Mix the saffron threads in 2 1/4 cups of hot water, Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the fennel and cumin seeds until they are fragrant, just a minute or two. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and allspice and stir to combine. Add the onion and saute over low heat until the onion is softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the rice and saute it for a minute or 2 with the spices and onion.
  4. Pour in the saffron infused water, along with the bay leaves and lemon rind. Stir to combine, season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  5. Add in the fruit and nuts, stir to combine, and cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid. Cook on low to medium heat for about 12 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, for another 10 minutes.
  6. When the rice is done, fluff it, remove the bay leaves, and spoon onto a large platter. Scatter the pomegranate seeds on top to garnish.

Notes

I used heaping 1/4 teaspoons when I measured out my spices. You can adjust to your taste. Keep some extra fruit and nuts aside so you can sprinkle them, along with the pomegranate seeds, across the rice in the final presentation. I should also note that a more traditional way of making this rice includes a crusted layer of rice at the bottom. It’s a more involved method which you can see here

http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/2012/09/persian-jeweled-rice.html

Think about this rice dish for your holiday tables, it would make a spectacular vegetarian side dish.

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46 Responses to Persian Jeweled Rice

  1. Lynda says:

    Oh, my! I have been meaning to try this for the longest time. Waiting for the perfect moment for the stars to align, I guess. I have had all the ingredients in the house for months………
    Well, this was just phenomenal. It took willpower for us not to consume the whole pan tonight. I followed your recipe pretty closely, using golden raisins, dried apricots and our home-dried figs. The pomegranate arils added far more to the recipe than I expected, too.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. Oh!! I wish I could take a full month off of work just so I could prepare all the wonderful recipes you post! Your photos are exquisite and make everything all the more appealing. Thank you!

  3. swati says:

    great clicks and an equally great recipe! yum

  4. Julia says:

    Love your photos! Especially the one with all the spices and beans. Are pomegranates already in season? I don’t see them anywhere.

  5. Am so excited to see this post for more reason than one. First I just love the rice…it looks awesome ! i just can’t wait to make some . I love your spice box -so Indian. Lastly, I lived in Dehradun, India – it is famous for basmati and we would get rice from the basmati fields ( my mother still does) and it is always kept away to age….I don’t think she has ever used anything less than 6-8 yrs old. next time am in Dehradun am going to take pictures of the basmati fields. :))

  6. This has to the prettiest dish I think you have ever made. What a treat for the eyes. Gorgeous!

  7. Janice says:

    Love all the jewel like colours in this rice. What is it about pomegranates? They just seem to lift any dish to a real feast.

  8. Brigitta Huegel says:

    Hi,
    after EVERYBODY who eat it asks for the recipe of your peach-crumble, this here sounds like a follower – so appetizing! I will try it after our holidays – and tell on berlinletters.blogspot.de about the results (which will be good, I KNOW it)

  9. Mary says:

    What a beautiful creation! I’ll wager this is delicious. I’m going to have to give it a try. It is too tempting to resist. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  10. Basmati is my favorite also.This recipe looks exquiste..and it would be my whole meal.Perfect.

  11. Junglefrog says:

    Gotta try that method for cleaning the pomegranates… I used a way Jamie Oliver recommend ( which involves tapping on the sliced fruit with a wooden spoon) but that just had me cleaning up pomegranate spatters all around the kitchen! This sounds a lot better…;) this rice sounds totally delicious!! Bookmarking this to make soon, very soon!!

  12. Junglefrog says:

    Gotta try that method for cleaning the pomegranates… I used a way Jamie Oliver recommend ( which involves tapping on the sliced fruit with a wooden spoon) but that just had me cleaning up pomegranate spatters all around the kitchen! This sounds a lot better…;) this rice sounds totally delicious!! Bookmarking this to make soon, very soon!!

  13. Tabitha says:

    Basmati is my favourite rice, I always order this when I see it on a menu but now I’ll have a go at making it.

    • We have an Indian market that we go to occasionally and they have a mind boggling array of different basmati rices, all in these beautiful sacks and packages, but none of it marked in English, so I just randomly pick one and it always turns out wonderful, but different from the last. It’s an interesting kind of rice.

  14. This recipe looks delicious! Its exotic and perfect!

  15. Golly gee whiz that sure looks delicious. It’s funny how I feel like I can smell the aroma of all of those spices. You must have been in sensory heaven!

  16. Eileen says:

    That is perhaps the prettiest rice ever. I love it!

  17. Valerie says:

    Sue, every time I visit your blog it’s literally a feast for the senses! I can almost smell the saffron and other spices right through the screen.
    (Thanks for the pomegranate tips too! I usually attack mine with a knife…it’s not pretty.) ;)

  18. I have one of those zesters, and nothing I make looks like your gorgeous peeled citrus. I have no idea where to get true basmati where I am, but will look on line. Can’t wait for thanksgiving!!!!! this will be there. Again, the photographs are spectacular. many thanks

  19. Amy says:

    How beautiful. This rice looks so good, I wish I could eat it for dinner tonight. I’ve also heard really great things about the traditional crisped-rice way of making it.

  20. FANTÁSTICAS FOTOS…. FANTÁSTICO ARROZ…
    Felicidades AMIGA :)

  21. Mary says:

    There could not possibly be a more beautiful rice dish! The presentation is spectacular. I was so excited to try basmati rice after you posted the saffron rice and I bought some the other day. Unfortunately, what was labeled basmati was nothing like this. It was basically jasmine. (which I love already, but I wanted the basmati!) I’m going to look for rice in the burlap bag and labeled from India. Thanks for the tip!

    • I was surprised to see the huge sack there on the bottom shelf, and this was at my ‘lower end’ grocery store, too. There are so may different varieties of basmati, though. The one I used for the Saffron rice cooked up long and curly, while this one was more of a regular shape.

  22. ooooohhh’s and awwwww’s – this is beautiful! The spices, the lemon, the photos, the silver, all if it is wonderful.

  23. I love the colors and flavors and photos, Sue! The opening photo looks like it belongs on the cover of a Persian Cookbook! So pretty!

  24. Oh Sue! this is outstanding! I wanted to jump in and eat the lot – beautiful!
    Mary x

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