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Jewelled Persian Rice with Tahdig

Jewelled Persian Rice with Tahdig.

A feast of fragrant rice, fruit, spices, beans and nuts. This jewelled Persian rice is a meal fit for royalty. It not only tastes delicious, but looks gorgeous too. And the tahdig is “the icing on the cake”.

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.

What is 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.

Basmati Rice

The 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. Who knew? Not me. This one is aged between 12 to 18 months.

Jewelled Persian Rice with Tahdig

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. As some of you will already know, I don’t like to over complicate things or use too much paraphernalia. The dish is very nearly vegan as I only added a pat of butter for the tahdig. I could, however, just as easily leave it out. Although I can’t vouch for how good the tahdig will be without it.

Jewelled Persian Rice with Tahdig.

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 we reheated the rice the next day and it made another satisfying meal.

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Persian Jewelled Rice. PIN IT.

Jewelled Persian Rice with Tahdig.

Jewelled Persian Rice – The Recipe

Jewelled Persian Rice with Tahdig.
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5 from 1 vote

Jewelled Persian Rice with Tahdig

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.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Soaking Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: pilau, rice, vegetarian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 825kcal
Author: Choclette


  • 300 g basmati rice (I used Amira Superior Aromatic rice)
  • pinch saffron
  • 150 g dried cranberries
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 100 g walnuts - toasted & roughly chopped
  • a large handful of freshly podded broad beans - simmered in water for 3-5 minutes.
  • seeds from 1 large pomegranate
  • bunch of parsley - chopped
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic - very finely chopped


  • Soak the rice in water in a covered bowl for an hour, then rinse thoroughly and drain.
  • Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp boiling water in a small covered bowl.
  • Soak the cranberries in hot water in another covered bowl.
  • Whilst all the soaking is going on, finely chop the onion, slice the courgette and seed and chop the pepper.
  • 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.
  • Add the courgette and pepper after the first ten minutes.
  • Add the rice to a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water.
  • Add the rice to the onions in the frying pan along with the saffron, cranberries and their soaking water.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Scrape the tahdig out of the pan and scatter over the top.
  • Serve whilst still warm.


One hour soaking time is required in advance of cooking.
Adapted from Jewelled Persian Rice with Pomegranates, Walnuts & Parsley from Amira
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used.


Calories: 825kcal | Carbohydrates: 116g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 663mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 1826IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 3mg


Red peppers as well as pomegranates and cranberries feature in this jewelled Persian rice. So I’m sending this off to Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen for The Vegetable Palette. This month is all about Glorious Reds.

This delicious dish with it’s super scrumptious tahdig also goes to Jac’s weekly Meat Free Mondays over at Tinned Tomatoes.

And 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.


  1. Sammie

    24th July 2015 at 9:46 am

    Not only does this dish look gorgeous it sounds absolutely delicious. I’ve never used this brand of rice, but Basmati is my favourite rice. Great recipe. Sammie

    • Choclette

      24th July 2015 at 1:52 pm

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

  2. Eb Gargano

    24th July 2015 at 11:24 am

    Oooh. That looks absolutely scrumptious and so pretty!

    • Choclette

      24th July 2015 at 1:54 pm

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

  3. Laura@howtocookgoodfood

    24th July 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I love this rice and have been using it lots. I now have to try out your jewelled rice, which looks superb!

    • Choclette

      24th July 2015 at 1:56 pm

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

  4. Elizabeth

    24th July 2015 at 1:50 pm

    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!

    • Choclette

      24th July 2015 at 2:02 pm

      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.

  5. Viki

    25th July 2015 at 6:36 am

    Wow, this sounds amazing. I must try this one.

    • Choclette

      26th July 2015 at 11:18 am

      Definitely worth trying Viki 🙂

  6. Claire @foodiequine

    25th July 2015 at 11:54 am

    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!

    • Choclette

      26th July 2015 at 11:19 am

      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.

  7. Sina

    25th July 2015 at 8:24 pm

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

    • Choclette

      26th July 2015 at 11:20 am

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

  8. Dom

    26th July 2015 at 8:58 am

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

    • Choclette

      26th July 2015 at 11:22 am

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

  9. the caked crusader

    26th July 2015 at 3:08 pm

    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

    • Choclette

      27th July 2015 at 9:39 am

      Ooh I like the sound of your sinfully naughty Turkish rice CC 😀

  10. nadia

    26th July 2015 at 11:59 pm

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

    • Choclette

      27th July 2015 at 9:41 am

      Oh lucky you Nadia – I think those flavours are routed in my genes somehow 😉

  11. Kate - gluten free alchemist

    28th July 2015 at 10:27 pm

    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!!

    • Choclette

      1st August 2015 at 5:45 pm

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

  12. shaheen

    29th July 2015 at 7:42 am

    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.

    • Choclette

      30th July 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks Shaheen, Tahdig is a wonderful thing as is the colour red 🙂

  13. Fiona from London-Unattached

    29th July 2015 at 9:55 pm

    That looks great – the kind of thing I’d order from a restaurant! Whether I’d cook it is another matter (lazy here)

    • Choclette

      30th July 2015 at 1:45 pm

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

  14. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi

    29th July 2015 at 10:48 pm

    I can almost taste the aroma just from your descriptions – I need a Persian feast in my life right now!

    • Choclette

      30th July 2015 at 1:46 pm

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

  15. Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry

    29th July 2015 at 11:01 pm

    In Sierra Leone we call Tahdig – crawoh and i is my favourite bit of rice.

    • Choclette

      30th July 2015 at 1:48 pm

      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.

  16. Leah

    15th August 2015 at 3:15 pm

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

    • Choclette

      15th August 2015 at 4:06 pm

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

  17. Madiha Nawaz

    15th August 2015 at 6:11 pm

    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!

    • Choclette

      15th August 2015 at 8:06 pm

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

  18. Amanda | The Cinnamon Scrolls

    15th August 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Omg, the colours in this dish are spectacular! And it looks so tasty!

    • Choclette

      15th August 2015 at 8:06 pm

      Thank you Amanda. Love the name of your blog BTW.

  19. Anne Murphy

    15th August 2015 at 8:30 pm

    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.

    • Choclette

      16th August 2015 at 12:59 pm

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

  20. Paige @ Where Latin Meets Lagniappe

    15th August 2015 at 11:06 pm

    I’ve only had Persian rice once and it was the absolute best rice I’ve ever had in my life! I can’t wait to try this amazing recipe!!

    • Choclette

      16th August 2015 at 2:19 pm

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

  21. Hanna @ Arctic Cloudberry

    16th August 2015 at 6:20 pm

    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.

    • Choclette

      16th August 2015 at 9:31 pm

      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.

  22. LydiaF

    17th August 2015 at 10:26 am

    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.

    • Choclette

      17th August 2015 at 1:57 pm

      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.

  23. Gin

    20th August 2015 at 8:47 pm

    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!

    • Choclette

      21st August 2015 at 11:30 am

      Thanks Gin, the tahdig is so very good.

  24. Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness

    21st August 2015 at 3:37 am

    Your dish looks and sounds yummy!!

  25. Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours

    19th September 2015 at 6:07 pm

    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.

    • Choclette

      20th September 2015 at 9:38 pm

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


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