JAHAVER POLOW - Persian rice with nuts and fruits
Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my personal favourites. I love the combination of sweetness and fruit in a savoury dish, and while the cuisine is not spicy, it has a very elegant fragrant aroma that sets it apart from many other cuisines of the world.
Today, we are making Persian polow, also known as Persian rice pilaf, which is a staple dish in Iranian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is made by cooking rice with spices, herbs, and sometimes with added ingredients such as vegetables or dried fruits (or all of the above, as in this recipe).
This recipe looks fairly involved and while it is easy enough to accomplish, it does take some time and a number of steps to get to the perfect rice. But I promise, the result is worth it!
WHAT TO SERVE PERSIAN JEWELLED RICE WITH?
For your full Persian taste experience, I recommend creating a dish called 'Zereshk polow' - Persian Jewelled Rice with Saffron Braised Chicken, which is absolutely divine in its combination.
I also recommend serving my Easy 5 minutes mint & coriander yogurt dip alongside.
Let’s start with some rice know-how:
the recipe calls for Basmati rice. Yes, you can substitute it with long grain rice, or even Jasmine rice if absolutely necessary, but I recommend not to.
The main reasons to go for Basmati are
- Texture: Basmati rice has a long, slender grain that separates easily and remains fluffy when cooked, which is important in polow dishes where the grains of rice should remain separate and not clump together.
- Absorption: Basmati rice has a high absorption rate, which allows it to absorb flavours and spices well, enhancing the taste of the dish.
While cooking the rice, you need to cover the lid in a cloth.
Why is that? It is a traditional technique in Persian cooking that helps to produce fluffy, fragrant, and perfectly cooked polow rice.
- Moisture retention: The cloth helps to trap steam and maintain the moisture level inside the pot, preventing the rice from drying out and becoming hard or crunchy.
- Improved texture: The cloth helps to distribute heat evenly, resulting in a more consistent texture and preventing the bottom layer of rice from becoming overcooked or burned.
- Flavour enhancement: The cloth also helps to absorb excess moisture and spices, which are then transferred back to the rice, enhancing its flavour.
Optional step: the TAHDIG (crispy bottom layer)
One of the steps in this recipe is to mix some of the parboiled rice with yogurt. This is to form a crispy layer called ‘tahdig’ (Persian for ‘bottom of the pot’).
Similar to ‘Socarrat’, the crispy crust of the paella, tahdig is considered a delicacy and often served separately to the dish.
In my recipe below I explain how to make it, but you can also skip this step and just steam the rice without yogurt.
Have you ever had this Persian rice? If so, did you have it with tahdig? Please let me know in the comments below. But now enough of the talk now - let’s get this delicious rice cooked. Let’s get our aprons, I’ll see you in the kitchen.
Persian Jewelled Rice
Jahver Polow - also known as Jewelled Persian Rice Pilaf, is delicious a fluffy, fruity and nutty Middle Eastern staple dish. Serve it as a side dish to my Persian Saffron Braised Chicken for your full Middle Eastern taste experience.
Fact SheetCategory: Main Cuisine: Middle Eastern Gluten free Vegetarian Sides Cooking Method: cooking Diet: Gluten Free Vegetarian Low Salt Preparation Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 90 minutes Servings: 3
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 medium red onion, sliced
- 1 carrot (sliced lengthwise)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup crushed pistachios
- 1/2 cup raisins or cranberries
- 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (or dates / figs etc)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- 2 TBSP plain yogurt
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1.5 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Soak saffron in 50ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
- Soak raisins in 1 cup water or 1 cup orange juice
- Wash rice several times until the water runs clear. Add washed rice, one tsp of salt and enough water to cover it to a pot and let soak (don’t cook) for at least 30 minutes, but up to 3 hours.
- In the meantime:
- Chop dried apricots (or other dried fruit)
- Peel and slice one carrot lengthwise, then cut in half or a third. The slices should be about 3mm or 1/8” thick.
- Make syrup from 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, bring to boil. Add 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp cinnamon, then add carrot slices and boil for 15 minutes, until fork tender and candied. In the last 5 minutes, add raisins. Set aside once done.
- Add 1 tbsp butter and 1tsp oil to a pan, melt. Add sliced onions and sautée for about 10-15 minutes, add 1tsp turmeric and cardamom pods in the last 5 minutes.
- Mix onions, carrots, nuts, raisins and dried fruit together.
- Now bring rice and soaking water to a boil, add one tsp of vegetable oil. Let cook on medium heat (bubbling) for 5 minutes, then drain.
- OPTIONAL STEP for making the TAHDIG: Scoop out 1/4 cup of parboiled rice, let cool a bit, then mix it with 2 TBSP of plain yogurt.
- In a large pot, melt 1 TBSP of butter and 1 TBSP of vegetable oil. Keep pot on low heat. Place the rice-yogurt mix on the bottom, spreading evenly.
- Now the layering process of rice, onions + dried fruits + nuts + carrots begins, make sure you follow this process while layering in the shape of a pyramid, i.e. tapering the pile at the top.
- Drizzle the saffron water over the top.
- Once done, use the handle of a wooden spoon to create 5-7 holes in the rice pile, all the way to the bottom -this ensures the steam can get out and helps steam the rice evenly.
- Wrap the pot’s lid in a kitchen towel (this helps absorb the moisture in the steam and prevents water from dripping back down into the rice) and place on the pot.
- Now, let the rice steam covered on low (!) heat for 30 minutes. (Warning: if you turn the stove up too much, the rice will burn)
- Et voilà, your delicious Persian rice is done. When plating, garnish with some more chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds.
- I love to serve it as a side dish to my Persian Saffron Chicken and my Easy 5 Minutes Coriander & Mint Yogurt dip.