Persian Jeweled Rice

Persian Jeweled Rice is a spectacular rice pilaf topped with colorful gem-like fruits and nuts ~ this popular wedding dish is a celebration in itself!

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

Ingredients

  • 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/persian-jeweled-rice/

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

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Persian Jeweled Rice is a spectacular rice pilaf topped with colorful gem-like fruits and nuts ~ this popular wedding dish is a celebration in itself! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

59 Comments

  • Reply
    Bita
    November 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Sue, guess what? I’m Persian :) We’re married 19 years now but I still remember back to when we were planning our wedding. The venue we chose would not allow us to cater. We really wanted to serve the traditional Persian Wedding Jeweled Rice. I taught the chef at the club where we got married how to make this dish. He nailed it! It was no easy feat. We had close to 300 people at our wedding. It was a beautiful day. I love your version of this dish – I’ve never seen it served with pomegranate arils. You are right, it would be fantastic on the Thanksgiving table along with the turkey and sides. Thank you for sharing this and for bringing back the memories! ?

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 21, 2016 at 7:33 am

      Oh wow, Bita, what a memory ~ 300 people, yikes! I bet you have some amazing photos of that dish.

  • Reply
    Katy
    August 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    2 questions – if I double the recipe would I increase the cooking time? And do you think it could be made in a rice cooker? Thanks! It’s gorgeous!!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      I’ve never used a rice cooker, so I’m not sure about that, Katy. This recipe is fairly large already, so I would make the recipe twice in two separate pans rather than try to make one giant batch.

      • Reply
        Katy
        August 7, 2016 at 11:55 am

        Thanks! I just always worry about burning the rice but I’ll give it a shot!

  • Reply
    Adrian
    November 22, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    I chose this recipe for part of Thanksgiving dinner this week. How much time should I allow from prep to serving?

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 22, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Well, just from a scan of the recipe I’d guess about an hour and a half, to be leisurely about it. You can make it a bit ahead, keep the rice warm, and scatter the ‘jewel’s on at the last minute — good luck!

  • Reply
    Katie McK
    November 4, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Oh my goodness, this looks like my kind of dish! I love anything middle eastern and dried fruit in savoury food is just amazing. Without wanting to sound like a complete sycophant, I truly love all the recipes on your blog. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 4, 2015 at 6:32 am

      Thanks so much Katie, you made my day! I think this recipe is fascinating, and it’s fun to make, too. The color of the rice, the colors and textures of the fruit and nuts — it really is special, I hope you give it a try.

  • Reply
    Janelle
    November 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I am fawning (a.k.a. drooling all over my keyboard) over your rice recipes. Gorgeous and they sound delicious! Pinning them ALL!!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 21, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Thank you Janelle, this rice is seriously one of the best things I’ve ever posted, I hope you make it and enjoy it!

  • Reply
    Efthymia
    October 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I can’t really thank you enough for the recipe! I made it as a side dish for rabbit in a beer, wine and rosemary sauce and guess what, I can’t even remember the rabbit’s taste! Not too sweet, not too spicy, just perfect! You just made three friends’ evening a night to remember. Thanks and thanks and thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 7, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that Efthymia! This is a once in a lifetime dish, that’s for sure. I would never have thought to pair it with rabbit!

  • Reply
    Lynda
    April 16, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Im SO glad you tried it and liked it, I have to agree, it’s a very special dish :)

  • Reply
    Margie MacKenzie
    September 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    swati
    September 16, 2012 at 9:22 am

    great clicks and an equally great recipe! yum

  • Reply
    Julia
    September 16, 2012 at 4:22 am

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

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      I think it’s not quite the height of the season yet, but, as with everything now, they start filtering in to the stores way before their true season. I think they are most plentiful through the holidays, which is perfect for this dish.

  • Reply
    Turmeric n Spice
    September 16, 2012 at 2:31 am

    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. :))

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      I forgot to mention the part about basmati being aged, that’s so interesting. I wish I had you with me at our Indian market where I’m perplexed by the huge display of different kinds of rice—I just grab the one in the prettiest package!

  • Reply
    From Beyond My Kitchen Window
    September 15, 2012 at 10:43 pm

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

  • Reply
    Janice
    September 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Brigitta Huegel
    September 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    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)

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    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

  • Reply
    La Table De Nana
    September 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      I was thinking of putting in some chicken thighs or something as it cooks to make this a complete meal. I’m going to try that next time.

  • Reply
    Junglefrog
    September 14, 2012 at 5:25 am

    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!!

  • Reply
    Junglefrog
    September 14, 2012 at 5:25 am

    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!!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      There were no splatters with this method at all, I couldn’t believe it. It kills me to think that the house I used to live in had a huge pomegranate tree in the backyard that went under-appreciated— if I’d only known then what I know now.

  • Reply
    Tabitha
    September 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Top Cuisine avec Lavi
    September 14, 2012 at 5:35 am

    This recipe looks delicious! Its exotic and perfect!

  • Reply
    Thyme (Sarah)
    September 14, 2012 at 2:37 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      I was definitely in sensory heaven, especially the moment when my husband and I took our first bite, we looked at each other and rolled our eyes!
      By the way, I was consciously channeling your photographic style in this post!

  • Reply
    Eileen
    September 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm

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

  • Reply
    Valerie
    September 14, 2012 at 1:53 am

    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.) ;)

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks Valerie, comments like yours make my day :) I’ve always avoided pomegranates because I figured I’d never get out enough seeds to make all the trouble and mess worthwhile. The underwater method is really a game changer!

  • Reply
    Bites from life with the barking lot
    September 14, 2012 at 12:44 am

    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

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 14, 2012 at 12:53 am

      I have no idea where I got that zester, but it’s always been in my kitchen. I only recently rediscovered it. I had to go back in and edit my post to include the Thanksgiving idea! It’s perfect for the holidays.

  • Reply
    Amy
    September 13, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 14, 2012 at 12:51 am

      I know, but the one time I tried that technique it didn’t work out very well for me, so I didn’t attempt it here. I’d love to see you try it. I’m sure it adds a whole other level of interest to this dish.

  • Reply
    Te de Ternura
    September 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    FANTÁSTICAS FOTOS…. FANTÁSTICO ARROZ…
    Felicidades AMIGA :)

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      September 14, 2012 at 12:49 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    September 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

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

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    September 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Inside a British Mum's Kitchen
    September 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm

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

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