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Jewelled Persian Rice

Jewelled Rice

Once upon a time, long long ago, I had an Iranian boyfriend. He introduced me to a whole new cuisine, which, although similar to the Middle Eastern one I was more familiar with, was distinct and flavoursome. It was rare that he did any cooking, but when he did he always made the most delicious rice in the classic Persian way, complete with tahdig.

Tahdig is the bottom layer of rice which forms a crunchy buttery crust and is the prize that everyone hopes to get. Despite having eaten it any number of times, I’d never prepared rice this way myself. When I was sent some basmati rice and the ingredients to make jewelled Persian rice, based on the classic Javaher Polow, I was filled with nostalgia and was cooking almost before I’d unpacked the box.

Amira RiceThe rice in question is Amira’s superior aromatic rice and it really is what it says on the tin – or do I mean packet? The grains are incredibly long and the fragrance, even before it is cooked, is deeply aromatic. In fact I spent a considerable amount of time with my nose in the bag just breathing in the scent. Apparently basmati rice needs to be aged to add flavour, something I was completely unaware of and this one is aged from 12 to 18 months.

The recipe I was sent was for jewelled Persian rice with pomegranates. walnuts and parsley. Luckily, I had plenty of parsley in the garden as that wasn’t provided. I also had a bag of broad beans, some courgettes, a red pepper and some newly harvested garlic, so these went into the pot too and added a little extra protein to the dish. I didn’t have any oranges, so I substituted a little grated lemon zest instead. As well as making a few adjustments to the ingredients, I also simplified the method a little – I don’t like over complicating things and having to use too much paraphernalia. The dish is very nearly vegan, there is only a pat of butter added and that could easily be left out, though I can’t vouch for the tahdig if it is.

Well what can I say? It was delicious, a good combination of eastern fragrance, fruit, spice and mouthwatering rice. Despite me going my own way, the tahdig was perfect. The dish lasted us two days and we ate it unaccompanied. It really didn’t need anything else. The tahdig disappeared on day one when it was nice and crunchy, but the rice was easily reheated the next day to make another satisfying meal.

Jewelled Persian Rice
Serves 4
A feast of fragrant rice, fruit, spices, beans and nuts, this is a meal fit for royalty. It not only tastes delicious, but looks gorgeous too.
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Cook Time
1 min
Cook Time
1 min
Ingredients
  1. 300g Amira Superior Aromatic rice
  2. pinch of saffron
  3. 150g dried cranberries
  4. 1 large onion
  5. 2 tbsp olive oil
  6. 60g unsalted butter
  7. 1 cinnamon stick
  8. 1 tsp cardamon pods
  9. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  10. 1 courgette
  11. 1 red pepper
  12. 100g walnuts - toasted & roughly chopped
  13. a large handful of freshly podded broad beans - simmered in water for 3-5 minutes.
  14. seeds from 1 large pomegranate
  15. bunch of parsley - chopped
  16. grated zest of 1 lemon
  17. 1 clove garlic - very finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Soak the rice in water in a covered bowl for an hour, then rinse thoroughly and drain.
  2. Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp boiling water in a small covered bowl.
  3. Soak the cranberries in hot water in another covered bowl.
  4. Whilst all the soaking is going on, finely chop the onion, slice the courgette and seed and chop the pepper.
  5. Heat the oil and half the butter in a large lidded frying pan over a low heat and add the onion, cinnamon, cardamon and cumin and fry gently for about 20 minutes when the onion should be lightly caramelised.
  6. Add the courgette and pepper after the first ten minutes.
  7. Add the rice to a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water.
  8. Add the rice to the onions in the frying pan along with the saffron, cranberries and their soaking water.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir.
  10. Dot the butter over the surface of the rice. Make five to six holes in the rice with a wooden spoon, right down to the bottom. Then cover with the lid and leave to steam over a gentle heat for another 30 minutes or so.
  11. As soon as the rice is cooked and a crunchy buttery rice layer has formed at the bottom, turn the rice out into a large serving bowl, leaving the tahdig behind. Fork through the walnuts, beans, pomegranate seeds, parsley, lemon zest and garlic.
  12. Scrape the tahdig out of the pan and scatter over the top.
  13. Serve whilst still warm.
Notes
  1. 1 hrs soaking time is required in advance of cooking.
Adapted from Jewelled Persian Rice with Pomegranates, Walnuts & Parsley from Amira
Adapted from Jewelled Persian Rice with Pomegranates, Walnuts & Parsley from Amira
Tin and Thyme http://tinandthyme.uk/
 Vegetable Palette LogoWith the red peppers as well as pomegranates and cranberries featured in the dish, I am sending this off to Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen for The Vegetable Palette, which this month is Glorious Reds.

 

Meat Free MondaysThis also goes to Jac’s weekly Meat Free Mondays over at Tinned Tomatoes.

 

 

 

Extra Veg LogoAnd with the extra beans, courgettes and peppers I added, I’m also sending this off to Extra Veg with Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Here are some other takes on the recipe from:

Comments

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      24th July 2015

      Thanks Sammie. Basmati is delicious for sure, but I think this one might be the best I’ve tried.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      24th July 2015

      Thank you Eb. It’s made me want to come up with a Persian feast for friends with this dish playing a starring role.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      24th July 2015

      Thanks Laura, it’s a great rice to use for special meals and does make my plain old brown rice feel a little tame šŸ˜‰

  1. Leave a Reply

    Elizabeth
    24th July 2015

    This post is making my mouth water. My father in law was from Iraq, and my husband grew up with his mother making Persian rice and he makes it for us often (it’s our special occasion rice!). It’s nothing as elaborate as this, usually just with barberries and a gorgeous tahdig layer, but oooh this recipe sounds AMAZING!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      24th July 2015

      Oh I didn’t know you had those Eastern roots in the family Elizabeth. I love having these different influences on our cuisine, it makes life so much more interesting. But you are right, this is special occasion rice and your husband’s Persian rice with barberries sounds delicious.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Claire @foodiequine
    25th July 2015

    This post is making me feel guilty. A friend gave me the Persiana cookbook and whilst I have flicked through I’ve never got round to making anything. Must rectify!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      26th July 2015

      I’ve not actually seen the book Claire, but it’s had quite a few good reviews. I suspect it’s rather too meat orientated for me.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Sina
    25th July 2015

    This sounds so delicious, Choclette! I love rice dishes and this one sounds so interesting. Can’t wait to try it. šŸ™‚

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      26th July 2015

      Thanks Sina. It’s great for a nice mix of textures and flavours and serving on special occasions.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Dom
    26th July 2015

    ahhh… I can just smell the aroma now. So evocative and so tasty. Love this and lucky you having had such an exotic partner!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      26th July 2015

      Haha Dom, he was certainly thought to be exotic when I took him home to Cornwall back in the day!

  5. Leave a Reply

    the caked crusader
    26th July 2015

    I’ve come around to rice late in life! I make a sinfully buttery Turkish rice which is so naughty we have to limit how often we can have it!
    My best friend is half Iranian and she often makes dishes like this

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      27th July 2015

      Ooh I like the sound of your sinfully naughty Turkish rice CC šŸ˜€

  6. Leave a Reply

    nadia
    26th July 2015

    This recipe is right up my street! I grew up eating amazing aromatic rice dishes like this. Colourful and full of flavour šŸ™‚

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      27th July 2015

      Oh lucky you Nadia – I think those flavours are routed in my genes somehow šŸ˜‰

  7. Leave a Reply

    Kate - gluten free alchemist
    28th July 2015

    Sounds delicious Choclette. I always love those crisped up rice bits, but never knew they had a name…. The Amira rice also sounds particularly good. I didn’t know it had to be aged either! Learn something new every day!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      1st August 2015

      Thanks Kate. The wonders of blogging hey, there is always so much to learn šŸ˜‰

  8. Leave a Reply

    shaheen
    29th July 2015

    I made Tahdig once in my life when I lived in Glasgow and I loved the golden crispness, you have reminded me again and I so want to make this soon. Thank you for sharing with VegetablePalette and Fruit Palette, the glorious red theme will continue into August, hope you will join in again.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      30th July 2015

      Thanks Shaheen, Tahdig is a wonderful thing as is the colour red šŸ™‚

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      30th July 2015

      Haha Fiona, well with the wonderful food you get to try, I’m not sure I’d bother either.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      30th July 2015

      Yes Emma, a Persian feast is just what is needed. I have the rice …..

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      30th July 2015

      Ooh Bintu, I didn’t know this was something from Sierra Leone too, although actually all I know about the food there is from you.

  9. Leave a Reply

    Leah
    15th August 2015

    What a wonderful combo of flavors in this rice! Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      15th August 2015

      Thank you, glad you liked it. It’s an excellent dish for special occasions.

  10. Leave a Reply

    Madiha Nawaz
    15th August 2015

    I love Iranian cusine and rice is my favourite! I’m not a fan of tahdig though but I will prepare this recipe by following the exact instructions as I really loved the name of this dish!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      15th August 2015

      Not like tahdig Madiha? You will be everyone’s favourite person if you make this as they can have your share of the tahdig šŸ™‚

  11. Leave a Reply

    Anne Murphy
    15th August 2015

    That sounds delicious. I’ve heard of the method, but never used it – and really should, when I have good basmati on hand! My rice cooker doesn’t do it justice.

    And this, with the nuts, vegetables and seasoning, makes it a feast.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      16th August 2015

      Thanks Anne, it really is a feast and a delicious way to have rice as a special treat.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      16th August 2015

      Wow, that is a ringing endorsement Paige. Hope you give it a go AND like it.

  12. Leave a Reply

    Hanna @ Arctic Cloudberry
    16th August 2015

    My husband is from UAE and he taught me to do rice the proper middle eastern way, not the sticky mushy kind like I used to, but like you describe. I use oil though usually, so for vegans that’s a good substitute for the butter. Butter will be tastier of course, but oil still makes a good tahdig. I haven’t tried this one though with cranberries and pomegranate. Looks gorgeous – Must give it a go.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      16th August 2015

      Thanks Hanna. Lucky you, you’ve been taught by a pro. That’s a useful tip about the oil still working, though I’d always use butter for preference, but I do have a few vegan friends.

  13. Leave a Reply

    LydiaF
    17th August 2015

    I will definitely try this technique the next time I make rice. I’ve never been able to quite duplicate the perfectly cooked, individual grains my favorite Persian restaurant serves.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      17th August 2015

      Ooh I’ve never been to a Persian restaurant before Lydia. Would love to visit one. I was quite impressed with this technique, though it’s a bit fiddlier than anything I would normally go for.

  14. Leave a Reply

    Gin
    20th August 2015

    Mmm, this looks amazing. I love the concept of tahdig – that _is_ the best part of the rice! Pinned so I have the recipe handy!

  15. Leave a Reply

    Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours
    19th September 2015

    This looks and sounds so good. May I bag all the buttery crunchy bits please? Thanks for sharing with #ExtraVeg and apologies in being so slow in sharing.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      20th September 2015

      I don’t think it works like that Helen, you’d cause a riot šŸ˜‰

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