Persian Wedding Rice

Also referred to as Jeweled Rice, this Persian Wedding Rice recipe is sure to wow your guests/friends/family! This is definitely the most time-intensive recipe on my blog, but it is definitely worth it. I’ve made it five times now, and I have always received rave reviews. This recipe is basically tahdig (crispy persian rice) with sweet yummy toppings.

This recipe is a combination of recipes from Kitchn, the Heritage Cook, NYT Cooking, and also influenced by the ingredients I personally had in my kitchen and interest in limiting amount of sugar/oil used.

This recipe is friendly for those who are vegan (if you sub oil for butter), gluten-free, egg-free, and nut-free (nuts are optional).

It’s probably the most complicated and time-intensive recipe on my site, but it’s definitely worth it!

The best way to make this recipe hassle free is to either prepare the toppings ahead of time- can even be a day or two in advance,  or while the rice is soaking or cooking to save time.

Here it goes!

Persian Jeweled Wedding Rice

Ingredients:

Rice:

  • 3 cups long-grain white basmati rice (important to use basmati rice* see notes for additional info)!
  • 4 tablespoons salt, divided in 2
  • 1 teaspoon loosely-packed saffron (you can use 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric of Pereg Mixed Spices Curry Blend or  a combo of turmeric and cumin instead. Adds flavor and makes the same yellow color on the crust, and is a cheaper alternative to saffron).
  •  a few pinches of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or vegetable oil if you want to keep vegan)

Caramelized onion:

  • 2 large peeled onions
  • 2 tbsp oil 

Candied Orange Peel and Carrots

  • 2 large oranges (optional)
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 3 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1 large carrot, peeled (use peeler to peel off slices of carrots to cook with, optional). Can also use 1 cup shredded carrot for ease
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (or orange blossom water)

Nut and dried fruit mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet (12-inches or more) over medium heat (or oil spray if you are cutting down the oil)
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds and chopped raw pistachios (optional) 
  • 1 cup mixture of golden berries (I used this mixture) but the exact ones you use is based on your preference! Can also use 1 cup dried cranberries or a mix of dried fruit. *Note, if you are topping with pomegranate seeds as well, 1/2 cup of dried fruit in total is enough.

Additional toppings:

  • handful of chopped mint (brings a lot of color and a fresh flavor to the dish). I’ve also used thinly sliced green onion, which is also delicious and beautiful.
  • pomegranate seeds (optional, but also brings vibrant color and a yummy flavor to the dish)

Instructions:

  1. 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 at least 1 hour. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. In a mortar and pestle, crush the saffron threads with a few pinches of sugar until a powder forms. Add 2 tablespoon of boiling water, and stir in 2 tablespoons of rose (or orange blossom) water and set aside.
  4.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the saffron rose water mixture, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in the same skillet. Add the carrots and orange peel and sauté for 2 minutes. Add remaining sugar and cinnamon 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. Drain the carrots and orange peel (and reserve the syrup).
  5. I used this recipe to make the caramelized onions, using 2 tablespoon of oil. Takes around 35-60 minutes to make!
  6. In a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, bring eight cups of water to a boil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt, and then add the rice to the pot. 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.
  7. Mix the reserved carrot/orange syrup mixture (optional) with and the par-boiled rice.
  8. Melt 2 tbsp butter (or oil) in a large heavy nonstick pot over medium-low heat and spread evenly around bottom of the pan. Add the left over saffron water mixture and spread it evenly on the bottom of the pan. Add the parboiled rice.
  9. Use the handle of a wooden spoon or equivalent to make 3 steam vent holes in the rice, about an inch apart and going through most of the rice but not the bottom layer.
  10. Cover the pan with a clean, dry kitchen towel, and put on top of the lid. If the towel drapes over the edges, pull the ends up on top of the lid to avoid a fire hazard.
  11. Place over medium-high heat until you begin to hear rice sizzling, 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until golden brown, 30 minutes; remove from heat and let rest for 10 min. Place a platter over pot and invert so crispy rice is on top, then serve.
  12. While rice is cooking… Heat 1 tablespoon oil (or oil spray) in a large skillet (12-inches or more) 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.
  13. To serve, arrange on a serving platter layers of rice, the caramelized carrot mixture, the barberry/nut mixture, and finally the slivered mint and pomegranate seeds (optional).

Notes:

  • I’ve made this recipe 5 times now, and each time it has been different based on the ingredients I have available. This recipe tastes delicious even if you change it a bit. For example, some recipes for persian rice use yogurt (I prefer without yogurt) and the type of cranberries/raisins (and the amount you use) is also not so important in my opinion. I’ve added dried apricots and dates in place of raisins and cranberries and those were also delicious.
  • You can prepare the caramelized onions and candied carrot and orange peels in advance to save time the day you are serving this rice
  • I’m not picky with my rice as long as it’s basmati rice, but some food bloggers do say that the brand you use matters. Tara Radcliffe recommends these brands:
    • Mother Basmati Rice
    • Royal Basmati Rice
    • Dunar Basmati Rice

Let me know what you think of this recipe, and please tag your creations @ahavabite on instagram so I can see your own versions!

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