Persian Rice (AKA “Jeweled Rice”)

I wanted to put pistachios and dried cranberries together in some kind of rice pilaf—so colorful! And I was wondering what else I could do with the precious saffron I had on hand. Turns out that a combination of these and other ingredients is a classic Persian recipe (AKA “Jeweled Rice”).

Rice_Salad_Pilaf_Persian_StyleI took liberties with the original recipe, to make it easier. The traditional method includes specifics for cooking the rice to attain a golden “crust” on the bottom of the pan. For me, it’s enough to put the main ingredients together—it still makes a beautiful dish!

Serves 6


  • 15 saffron threads (Iranian is best)
  • 1 orange, organic
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 carrot, julienned in short strips
  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 4 c. boiling water
  • Seeds from a few cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds
  • 1/2 c. chopped pistachios
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBS. olive oil

Start by soaking the saffron—it’ll bring out more color if it steeps in water for at least an hour. (Or do this step the night before). Use: > 15 saffron threads > 2 TBS. warm water

Peel strips from the orange, with minimal of the bitter white pith; slice into very thin strips. Add to pot: > thin orange peel strips > 1/2 c. sugar > 1/2 c. liquid (use juice of orange, plus water to make up difference)

Bring mixture to boil, stirring. On medium heat, continue stirring as it boils, for about 3-5 minutes, until liquid is reduced and syrupy.

Remove from heat and add: > 1/3 c. dried cranberries

Add soaked saffron plus its liquid to the orange/cranberry mix and set aside.

In medium pot, cook for 12-15 minutes, until done: > carrot > 2 c. basmati rice > seeds from several cardamom pods > 1/2 tsp. cinnamon > 4 c. boiling water

When rice is done, refrigerate to cool completely.

Saute nuts in butter until lightly browned. Use: > 1/2 c. pistachios, chopped > 1/4 c. butter

Set nuts aside.

When rice has cooled, take 1/2 cup of it and mix it with the saffron-water/orange-peel/cranberry mixture. Set aside for garnish.

Mix together: > the cooked, cooled rice > 1 tsp. salt > 2 TBS. olive oil

To serve, mound rice mixture onto a platter, into a cone shape if desired; top with: > the saffron-water/orange-peel/cranberry/rice mixture > the sautéed nuts

This rice is delicious served with roasted chicken that is seasoned with lemon, sage, and foenegreek seeds (ground to a powder).

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