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Persian Jeweled Rice (page 2 of 2)

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Spectacular recipe fit for a king, this Persian rice is adorned with beautiful dried fruits and nuts that turn it into a jewel. Really memorable!
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Add a generous amount of advieh on top and pour the rest of the melted butter and saffron water and half a cup water. Cover tightly, possibly using a towel wrapped all around the top of the pot to prevent any leakage. Cook over low heat for about 45 minutes.

While the rice finishes cooking, prepare the garnish.

Soak 1 cup barberries and half a cup raisins into 2 cups warm water for 20 minutes. Thinly slice an onion and gently fry it in 2 tbs/25 gr butter until soft and brown.

Add the strained barberries and raisins and cook for one more minute. Reserve.

Toasted nuts have a more intense flavor but too much toasting can ruin their appearance and make their taste overwhelm the rest. In a baking tray place the almonds and, if you want, the pistachios. Toast for about 10-15 minutes at 180░C while watching them continually. Nuts are easily overtoasted! alternatively, you can gently fry them in a non-stick pan with a little oil or no oil (picture).

Prepare a large serving platter, if possible of Persian or at least Arab origin. Carefully pile the rice in a nicely shaped mound and garnish with the Berberis-raisin-onion mixture and nuts.

Above another version with pomegranate seeds and rose petals on top although the composition can become visually cluttered.

A good deal of what makes this dish royal is its presentation. Be careful when laying the berberis on top and take some time to make a nice ring of nuts all around the rice.

Above you see the first time I tried this recipe, with a roasted chicken cut in pieces around. The berberis bays were probably over the hill and quite dark, but a very convincing dish already.

The rice at the bottom of the pot will form a delicious golden crust, crunchy and flavored with saffron. This is the part Persians all desire, the gratin, the duck skin, the crust on a leg of lamb. They call it tah-dig. Scrape it and serve one piece on each plate.

I served this with my Fig-stuffed quails - a resounding success! You can prepare the candied carrot and orange rind and toast the nuts the day before to gain some time.

I found this recipe in New Food of Life, Ancient Persian & Modern Iranian Cooking & Ceremonies, one of the most amazing cookbooks ever, written by Najmieh Batmanglij, a New-York-based Persian powermama. She first wrote her book in France where she had fled the bearded thugs who took over from the Shah in 1979, and then translated it into English when she settled in the USA. The book tells you in great details and very practical recipes how Persians prepare both regular and festive food. This Jeweled Rice is on the cover of the book. Each recipe is so well explained that you could give it as a reference in a cookbook-writing class. She carefully lists a number of alternative ingredients and explains the whys of each step. Warmly recommended!

Published 11/06/2007
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42 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Joanna
  • on: 13/06/2007
I make a version of this ... I use dried cranberries, and, at first, when I saw your photo, that's what I thought you were using. It is lovely - both to look at and to eatThanks for sharingJoannajoannasfood.blogspot.com
  • #2
  • Comment by parshu.narayanan
  • on: 14/06/2007
Fx enriches us all with this lovely dish most deserving of a place on the global menu. Persia is one of the world's most underrated great civilizations ( the West, Japan, China and India get more place in global consciousness). The Irani restaurants, run by migrant Zoroastrians from Iran (the last survivors of the Sassanids) were an institution (now dying out) in old Bombay, and this yummy dish, a bit spiced up for the Indian palate, is called Berry Pulao there.
  • #3
  • Comment by steamy kitchen
  • on: 16/06/2007
Beautiful dish. I just made a persian sour cherry rice (on my site). I will try this version next time - so many interesting ingredients and textures.
  • #4
  • Comment by Jim Dawn
  • on: 24/06/2007
2 organic oranges?  Yeah right we all live in the garden of Eden where countries like India and China pump out 100 tonnes of polution by the second and the rest of the world has to pay. Wake up and smell the roses they are plastic and made in china!
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 25/06/2007
Cranberries are a fair substitute for barberries. Note that berberis, the mother of the barberries, is a fairly common ornamental plant. Maybe it's growing right on your street!

It is indeed amazing how similar these rice dishes are and yet each is very unique and impregnated with the nation's identity. Amazing region, I wish I could visit more often!

Steamy kitchen thank you for your visit! Your sour cherry rice on steamykitchen.wordpress.com is a proud cousin of this dish and beautiful pictures too!

As for organic oranges I'm not saying they are pristine and grown in the garden of Eden where no chemicals are used, but their rind certainly contains less toxic chemicals than regular ones. And you can't really make this dish without orange rind. Maybe you can grow your own?
  • #6
  • Comment by parshu.narayanan
  • on: 26/06/2007
Perhaps a little unfair, Jim Dawn. An Indian's carbon footprint is a fraction that of an American's. A huge percentage of the greenhouse gases extant in the atmosphere have been released by Western countries. The point is not to play the blame game but work together to save the world, if we can.
  • #7
  • Comment by Rudi
  • on: 04/08/2007
g'day mate (yes, I am australian)I've been looking at your site with a friend, and we've been very impressed with your antics.  I tried the persian rice today, and it is a very nice little number indeed, but I found it quite rich.. I really think it needs to be served with a zesty/citrus chicken of some sort. Do you find your version to be very rich also, or is it that i just got my measurements wrong? Keep up the site... we're all watching ;)
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 15/08/2007
Indeed it is a very rich dish - meant for a wedding or some important occasion. I'm sure it would work fine with a tart chicken, but the dish is well balanced by itself.
  • #9
  • Comment by evan
  • on: 23/09/2007
"She first wrote her book in France where she had fled the bearded thugs who took over from the Shah in 1973,"You might want to read up on your history. The rest of the world finds it pretty amusing when Westerners start denouncing "bearded thugs" without even knowing when, let alone why (1953? Mossadegh? Ring a bell?) those thugs took over.(It was 1979, incidentally)
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 26/09/2007
Evan, I followed with interest your comments under the name "A disinterested Hebrew" on another website. You seem to have appointed yourself as the censor of all things Persian on the Internet, a tall order indeed.
In my article I refered to "the bearded thugs who took over from the Shah in 1979", a pretty specific type of bearded persian thugs I think despite the now-corrected typo in the date. Namely, the thugs who took over after the Carter administration stopped supporting "the evil government of the Shah" and he himself refused to let the army shoot on his own civilians.
  • #11
  • Comment by Evan
  • on: 17/10/2007
I'm amused to find that A) your internet sleuthing reached such an obsessive point and B) that I am now the "self-appointed censor of all things Persian on the internet" after leaving comments on two blog entries. If I'd known I have such far-reaching power I certainly wouldn't be wasting my time correcting errors on food blogs, even ones as beautiful and informative as this one. Relax: I pointed out a mistake you made (albeit in a snippy way, and for that I apologize) but there's no need to hunt me to the ends of the internet just to call attention away from a relatively minor mistake.
  • #12
  • Comment by Karen
  • on: 02/02/2008
Where do you get your barberries?  I have some (from my sister-in-laws Iranian mother) but they are dark and probably over the hill.  I know the ones I have were brought back by someone who went to visit.  Is there any way to mail order them?  Love them!  Thanks.
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 02/02/2008
There are several online businesses that sell barberries and other ingredients for Persian cooking in the USA and worldwide. You can also, I suppose, make them yourself using the berberis tree but don't do this unless you are really sure about which tree.   If you are in the UK I found an article in the Guardian about barberries that says: You'll find dried barberries (zereshk) in any Middle Eastern grocer, and the Spice Shop does them by mail order (020-7221 4448, www.thespiceshop.co.uk ).
  • #14
  • Comment by fusion
  • on: 12/06/2008
Frankly I don't mean to sound negative but I think you gave a condescending nod towards Vietnamese sticky rice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with VNese sticky rice and it's a pity you as a Westerner cannot appreciate sticky rice, too bad for you. Personally I have tasted this dish and I'd rather eat VNese sticky rice over this anytime. In my humble opinion VNese rice is far superior taste wise but this scores for presentation.  
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/06/2008
Fusion, I am sorry if I offended you, most of the vietnamese food I've tasted came in cheap take away restaurants in the West, and I'm sure there is much more to Vietnamese cuisine than this!
  • #16
  • Comment by Christine
  • on: 30/07/2008
I have had jeweled rice before and have always wanted the recipe. At one occassion it came out on a very large tray to serve over 35 people. It seemed to me that everything was all mixed in so each spoonful had berries, nut, peel and etc. I would love to make this for a get together in the fall for over 40 so what changes would I make to the recipe and can it be made ahead? Any tips would be greatly appreciated and your site shows and explains the recipe better then any other site I have found.
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Christine, I think you need to cook this once in advance to test it. You can roast the almonds and candy the carrots the day before, but the real problem will be to find a large enough pot to put rice for 40 people.
  • #18
  • Comment by Clarisa
  • on: 09/10/2008
Something went absoluterly wrong: 10 minutes + 45 minutes cooking the rice resulted in ugly paste and sticky rice.
I used the recommended rice, I rinsed it as requested.  
Besides: I didn┐t know how many cups of water were needed per cup of rice.  I did my best guess, with poor results.

Next time perhaps!
  • #19
  • Comment by mehya
  • on: 11/10/2008
very thanks for persian food
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/10/2008
Mehya, I hope to include more Persian recipes in the future, fascinating cuisine!
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/10/2008
Clarisa, I am so sorry the recipe failed you. Once the rice is precooked, you should not add any water to the pot apart from the little I recommend, otherwise it will be hopelessly overcooked!
  • #22
  • Comment by Clarisa
  • on: 13/10/2008
FX.  Many thanks. I'll follow your tip. :)
  • #23
  • Comment by Trever
  • on: 30/12/2008
Hey FX,

I've been a follower for almost two years now. Thanks firstly! Secondly, I botched this dish bad, real bad. 2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon? And is it 3 Tablespoons of Green Pods, and then remove the actual seed and grind it down? Please clarify how much a cup of water is too! I'm not trying to be pushy, but when you invest time and money into a dish it's important to know the specifics.

  • FX's answer→ Trever, sorry to hear that. The spice mixture is prepared separately and can then be used as needed when you cook - no need to use it all. The cardamom pods are to be measured whole, then seeded, then grind down the seeds. A cup is 250ml. Good luck!

  • #25
  • Comment by gingerflower
  • on: 11/01/2009
I made this rice last night to the rave reviews of my dinner guests. A couple of comments:

I wonder if it was a mistake to list 2 oranges in the ingredient list, as only one is called for in the directions?

I used pomegranate AND (rather than OR) barberried-- think it's even better.

I would advise people to think about the size of their pot and how many tablespoons of rice would be needed to cover the bottom in order to make the crust. I found the suggested amount was less than half of what I needed for the pot I used. It's helpful to think about it before you are ready to spread it because the melted butter would otherwise burn whilst you were trying to mix up more if you didn't have enough in the first place.

I am sorry to read the political commentary (people getting upset about ideas around organic oranges and Vietnamese rice, for example). The author of any recipe blog is a person who is entitled to opinions. In fact the whole suggested execution of a recipe is an opinion-- not an account of historical fact. When I read a recipe, I take what I like and leave what I don't-- whether regarding the recipe itself or the commentary around it. It doesn't matter what the author thinks-- it's just an opinion, and as it is expressed on a site the reader can choose to ignore, I don't think the author need apologise for any of her opinions. Given that this is a cooking blog and not The Huffington Post, I would say it is safe to assume that, wherever offense could possibly be read in, it wasn't intended.
  • FX's answer→ Gingerflower, thanks for trying this and for your detailed tips! I use both barberries and pomegranate too, it looks so gorgeous! If I ever publish a book I will need people to test my recipes to make sure there are no mistakes...

  • #27
  • Comment by bridget
  • on: 18/11/2009
there is no other word for this rice  but awesome.  i have eaten it several time in my life. a must try
Finally I made this beautiful Persian Rice. I've been afraid of it because of the crust; you are not able to check if it is getting nicely golden brown or black. I used a towel wrap and sometimes knocked on the glass lid to make the water drops run down so they would clean a little stripe for me to peak through. Even with cranberries and without nuts (I burned the almonds) it was delicious, she is the queen among rice to me. I will make it in full (with nuts and barberries) very soon. Compliments to your beautiful pictures, I found your instructions very helpful and easy to follow.
  • FX's answer→ Janneke, congratulations on your first Jeweled Rice. Now the barberries are really nice and not expensive at all- when you can find them. Burning almonds happens very easily and I recommend you buy a pair of handcuffs to cuff you to the oven whenever roasting nuts - 30 seconds of inattention is all it takes to burn a perfectly fine tray full of nuts. I know!

I was actually thinking about buying a timer, but hey why not handcuffs, haha.
  • FX's answer→ A timer won't do because 30 seconds can ruin your almonds and you can't really predict how long they will require to be browned but not black. Only by looking at them can you know.

  • #32
  • Comment by Clair
  • on: 19/07/2010
I made this rice at the weekend for a special occasion and was a bit worried having not done it before. But it was fantastic, thanks for a great recipe
  • FX's answer→ Glad this worked for you, Claire!

  • #34
  • Comment by Susan Van Ausdal
  • on: 21/07/2010
I don't remember how I happened to find this recipe, but I'm surely glad that I did!!  I've made it  2 times when I wanted to prepare something 'exotic', and it was well worth all the spice grinding and orange cutting. Last Sunday I  took it to a family reunion where most of the other dishes were of the nature of baked beans, corn pudding, and fried chicken, and it went over very well there too. The young man from Iraq who I tutor thought it was good also. It is a wonderful mix of flavors, and I will use it again. I love your website, and will try some more of your recipes.  Susan
  • FX's answer→ Susan, I hope this will make its way to your list of family classics!

  • #36
  • Comment by Lulu
  • on: 13/08/2010
Arroz Persa,

Noy hay palabras para describir esta joya de receta. Puse atencion a cada ingrediente, y aunque me falto solo los granos de granada; sin duda estoy esperando que llegue la temporada de granadas para volver hacer este platillo. Delicioso, delicado, y aromatico. Gracias Fransisco Xavier por la receta.  

Lulu
  • FX's answer→ Lulu, me encanta oir que esta receta ha sida un placer para tu tambien!

  • #38
  • Comment by Lulu
  • on: 24/09/2010

Llego por fin el dia esperado; el tiempo de las granadas. Tengo todos los ingredietes, muero de la emocion. Hoy cocinare de nuevo el arroz persa. Que manjar, que delicia. Esta receta la hare mientras Dios me de vida. Mil gracias por esta receta.

Lulu
  • #39
  • Comment by sara
  • on: 29/09/2010
great recipe, l was looking around for dinner ideas since it was my turn to cook (16 and mums got me into the kitchen) anywho i wanted to try something new so when i stumbled on your website i found it very interesting decided to make it and wow it came out really good! great job on the pictures love them since they help alot
sara
  • #40
  • Comment by Tess
  • on: 04/04/2011
Thanks for posting this fabulous rice dish in such a detailed and beautifully photographed way..  I want to try it but what do you consider a "glass of water" that the saffron soaks in?  Is that 8 oz of water, or 6 oz, or less?  It is the one thing I am not sure of.  Please let me know as I would like to make this soon but do not want to end up with soggy rice.  Thanks
  • #41
  • Comment by Michele
  • on: 06/05/2011
This looks delicious, I cannot wait to try it!
  • #42
  • Comment by anton
  • on: 15/06/2011
Disappointing - the spice amount was overwhelming, and I see now from an earlier comment that it's not meant to be used entirely.  That should be clarified in the recipe.

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