Persian Jeweled Rice

This rice is the most beautiful and tasty rice I have ever eaten. I really discovered a treasure that has been unknown to me until now. Beauty, fragrance and taste! I had decided to try this persian rice at my Cookalong with Frida and Ciana. They in Frisco, Dallas Texas, USA and me here in Sollentuna, Sweden. We made it with a Vegetable Curry in tomatoe sauce. The rice is flavored with saffron, which gives it its golden color, along with orange zest and carrots glazed in Saffron and topped with berries and nuts.

This classic Middle Eastern rice pilaf is a celebratroy dish often served at weddings and parties. It is plated beautifully and can be accompanied with other main dishes of meat or vegetables. When studying how to make it I have seen so many beautiful platings and I cannot be totally satiesfied with mine.

After eating this rice I am totally in love with it. I realize how boring I have eaten and served rice all my life up to this point!


  • 3 cups long-grain white basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 cup whole dried barberries or chopped unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon loosely-packed saffron (about 1/2 gram)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom water
  • 2 tablespoons oil, butter or ghee
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw pistachios, toasted
  • 1/2 cup golden or green raisins
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch long matchsticks
  • One 4-inch whole cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom


Wash the rice in a large container of water, swishing it around with your hand then draining off the water and repeating until the water runs clear, about five times. Cover again with water, add 2 tablespoons of the salt and soak for 1 hour. (Some soak 2-24 hours)

Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.

Set a small pot of water to boil. Use a vegetable peeler to take thick strips of rind off the oranges, including a little of the white pith. Slice these strips cross-wise into very small slivers. When the water is boiling, drop the slivers into the water and cook 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. (This cuts the bitterness of the orange rind.)

Clean the barberries by removing any stems or debris. Place them in a sieve set inside a bowl. Cover with cold water and soak for 20 minutes. Pull the sieve from the bowl and rinse under cold water to flush out any remaining sand. Set aside. (If using cranberries like me, skip this step.)

In a mortar and pestle, crush the saffron threads with a few pinches of sugar until a powder forms. Stir in 3 tablespoons of orange blossom water and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and the pistachios, and sauté for about a minute. Add the raisins to the pan and toss with the nuts. Empty the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the saffron orange blossom water mixture, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in the same skillet. Add the carrots and orange peel and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the remaining sugar, the remaining saffron orange blossom water mixture, the cinnamon stick and the cardamom and sauté for 1 minute. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots lightly caramelize and the liquid has reduced to a syrup. Drain the carrots and orange peel, and reserve the syrup.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, bring ten cups of water to a boil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt, and then add the rice to the pot with the remaining 1 tablespoon plain orange blossom water. Boil briskly until the rice has risen to the surface and when bitten into, a grain of rice feels soft, 6 to 10 minutes. Drain the rice into a large fine-mesh sieve, rinse with cold water and turn it out into a bowl.

Pour out the water from the pot. Save one cup for later. Add the rice from the bowl back to your emptied pot by taking a large spoonful of rice at a time and gently spread it over the bottom of the pot. Give the pot a shake to even out the base. Add more spoonfuls of rice, one at a time, gradually shaping it into a pyramid. Poke holes in the pyramid from top to bottom with the handle of a sleeve. This to make holes for steam. (The pyramid shape leaves room for the rice to expand and enlarge.) Add the saved water around the rice with a spoon around the edges.

Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook 20 minutes over low heat.

When cooked let it rest for a few minutes before removing the lid.

Divide the rice in two parts.

Gently mix the remaining saffron orange blossom water and the reserved carrot/orange syrup to half of the par-boiled rice. Stir so the rice get the saffron color.

To serve, arrange on a serving platter layers of the white rice, than the saffron rice, then the caramelized carrot mixture (discarding the cinnamon stick), then the barberry/nut mixture. It will look beautiful and taste great!

Vegetable Curry in Tomatoe Sauce


  • 6 small potatoes (or a few bigger ones)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 vedge of cabbage
  • brussel sprouts
  • beans
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato puré
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 5 dl or more liquid (vegetable broth)
  • You can add the vegetables you have at hand. This is what I had this sunday night.

Instructions for the curry:

Peel and cut the vegetables in small biteable sices. Chop the onions and garlic. Add 2 tbsp oil to your frying pan. Sweat the onion and garlic for a couple minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute. Add the vegetables and stir around and fry for some minutes. Add liquid/broth to the mix and stir. Add salt and pepper and spices to your liking. Put a lid on your pan and simmer until vegetables are cooked. When it comes to liquid add as much as you like for your curry to cook without becoming to soupy.

Jewelled rice!

If you don´t have all the ingredients for the rice you can make of what you have.

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