Persian Jeweled Rice

Persian Jeweled Rice is a spectacular rice pilaf topped with colorful gem-like fruits and nuts. This popular Middle Eastern wedding dish is a celebration in itself ~ it’s gluten free, vegan, and incredibly delicious!

Persian jeweled rice on a platter with pomegranates

Persian Jeweled Rice is a show stopping side dish

This is insane. I was grinning the whole time I was making, photographing, and eating this spectacular recipe. The mix of colors and textures, the aroma, and the complex flavors make it totally holiday worthy.

Persian jeweled rice steaming in a pan

Persian Jeweled Rice (aka Persian Wedding Rice)

This classic Middle Eastern rice pilaf is a celebratroy dish often served at weddings. I can see why!

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?

Basmati rice

Authentic Basmati rice is essential for this jeweled pilaf

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.

spices for Persian Jeweled Rice

The spices in Persian jeweled rice make it 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.

Spices for Persian Jeweled Rice in metal containers

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

zesting a lemon

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.

What kind of dried fruits can you use?

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.

breaking open a pomegranate

pomegranate seeds

Many ways to seed a pomegranate

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!

Another method which works great is to take the pomegranate quarters and hold them over a large bowl in the sink. Whack the skin side of the fruit and watch the seeds fall right into the bowl ~ it’s like magic!

Pomegranate seeds in a silver dish

Persian wedding rice is a perfect vegan and gluten free dish for the holidays

Your special diet friends and family won’t feel cheated this year, I promise.

A mound of Persian Jeweled Rice

Persian Jeweled Rice on a silver platter

Some other stunning vegetarian and vegan side dishes ~


Reader Rave ~

“OMGoodness!
I just made this for supper tonight.
OMGoodness!
It’s out of this world good!
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!”
 ~ Maija


Persian Jeweled Rice from The View from Great Island
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3.62 from 77 votes

Persian Jeweled Rice

Persian Jeweled Rice is a spectacular rice pilaf topped with colorful gem-like fruits and nuts.  This popular Middle Eastern wedding dish is a celebration in itself ~ it's gluten free, vegan, and incredibly delicious!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern, Persian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Yield 4 -6 servings
Author Sue Moran

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

  • Mix the saffron threads in 2 1/4 cups of hot water, Set aside.
  • 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.
  • Add in the rice and saute it for a minute or 2 with the spices and onion.
  • 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.
  • 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. Note: check your rice after 12 minutes, and if it's not tender, let cook a few minutes more.
  • 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.

Cook's 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
  • Try this same flavor profile with other grains such as quinoa, farro, or cracked wheat. 
 
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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71 Comments

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  • Reply
    Martine Ellul
    December 27, 2021 at 8:29 am

    Hi, woukd love to try this meal as I am entertaing 10 guests NYE. Is it possible to part cook or fully cook this rice say 1 hr before guests arrive or is it best to do last minute? I am acvompanying it with lebanese grilled yogurt infused chicken.

  • Reply
    Adriana
    November 26, 2021 at 8:11 am

    I actually made this for Thanksgiving party. It was, surprisingly, at hit and no rice left. I have looked at so many different ways to make this rice. I chose this one because it seems it would be the least sweet tasting, as other recipes called for sugar and orange blossom. I didn’t want it overly sweet but just a hint of sweetness. I ended up adding maybe a tablespoon of sugar but I also doubled the recipe. I agree with another comment that this is not typically how rice is cooked but I went with it anyway and it was fine. I think I may have overcooked the rice and left it on very low simmer with the lid wrapped in kitchen towel but maybe not necessary. I wish it had the orange peel and carrots like other recipes because I like the color of the rice. Mine didn’t turn out like that except that the pomegranate seeds did give it a pop in color. Also, wondering if I can add the almonds and pistachios toward the end so it keeps the texture. Overall, I was impressed and my rice was quite delicious.

  • Reply
    Christa Sahli
    June 14, 2021 at 4:25 am

    Hi every body, sorry, my english is very limited. I just finished to cook this ricedish und it’s the best rice i ever made.
    True persian or not, it tastes fantastic. Since the first time i tasted basmati rice i never will change. First, after rinsing the rice at least 5 times, you can also let it soak for 30 min. Cooking time for me max. 12 min.
    In every country nord south east or west the recipes are different, even elach familie has his own recipe. In my country is couscous the most cooked dish and i’ve never eat the same twice. Thank you so much for this marvellous rice.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 14, 2021 at 5:37 am

      Thank you Christa, I would love to try one of your couscous recipes 🙂

  • Reply
    Julia
    May 22, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    This recipe looks aMazing!!! My book club is reading The Stationery Shop and in the story they are making Jeweled Rice for an engagement party. So, I looked up ‘Persian Jeweled Rice’ and clicked on your recipe! Your description and photos are wonderful. I also enjoyed reading the comments! I plan to make this dish soon. Maybe even in an InstantPot….. All of your recipes look awesome and I am now a follower of yours on Pinterest.

  • Reply
    Mary Smith
    September 14, 2020 at 11:56 am

    We tried this last night.There must be a mistake in how to cook the rice. We did it exactly as written and it was not even close to cooked. Did you use instant rice? Was the rice precooked? Using raw basmati rice takes much longer to cook than what it says isn the recipe! It tasted fabulous, but crunchy rice is not our favorite.

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 14, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      Hey Mary, sorry you had trouble. In my experience basmati is a pretty quick cooking rice, 15 minutes is standard for me. I’ve updated the recipe to check for doneness after 12 minutes, and cook further if needed. I do think there are many varieties of basmati, and yours clearly needed more time. Hope you try this dish again!

  • Reply
    linda saliani
    September 24, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I love your recipe and the way you presented your dishes, so detailed. I am Persian and fairly a good cook 🙂 (so my husband says) and traveled to different cities in Iran and tried lots of original recipes. This recipe is not an original one. We never saute rice. If you want the rice grain to be elongated properly you must soak if for at least 30 minutes in salt water and then boil it and after rinsing it, you let it steam for another 45 minutes. By frying it first you prevent the grain to elongate. Also no figs or apricot are used in the original dish. We also use Narenge or Orange zest. with some sugar and rose water instead of lemon zest. I wish I can share the whole recipe with you, I am sure you will see the difference but I am going to incorporate some of your ideas in to our traditional way of making this dish.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe
    I wish

    • Reply
      Adriana
      November 26, 2021 at 8:17 am

      Hi, Linda

      Can you share your recipe? I agree about the way the rice is cooked. Mine still tasted great from this recipe but yes, I did notice the rice grain was not elongated and I love that about Basmati rice. I love the spices in this recipe and even saw one without the cardamom.

  • Reply
    Maija
    January 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    5 stars
    OMGoodness!
    I just made this for supper tonight.
    OMGoodness!
    It’s out of this world good!
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!
    I followed it exactly… but for two things:
    I didn’t want to spend the money on saffron,
    so I added some turmeric instead.
    I thought I had basmati, but only had jasmine,
    so I used that.
    To be honest, I can’t imagine it being any more delicious though!
    It was rather expensive to make though.
    Thank you so very much. I will definitely make this again.. and again.

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 18, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed this Maija, it really is a joyful dish, isn’t it?

    • Reply
      Darlene
      December 22, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      5 stars
      I made this for a dinner party last week and it was as tasty as it was beautiful to look at! The fragrance of the spices while cooking was absolutely intoxicating! I’m a hundred percent Italian and I grew up cooking Italian food. This was my first attempt at Persian cooking and I have to say I loved it. I paired it with grilled marinated chicken and it went perfectly. Thanks again Sue for another great recipe!

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