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 three times now, and always have rave reviews.

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 and don’t use yogurt), gluten-free, egg-free, and nut-free (nuts are optional).

Here it goes!

Persian Jeweled Wedding Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups long-grain white basmati rice
  • 4 tablespoons salt, divided in 2
  • 2 large oranges
  • 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.
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon and a few pinches of granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or oil if you want to keep vegan)
  • 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 raisins.
  • 1 large carrot, peeled (use peeler to peel off slices of carrots to cook with)
  • 1 large peeled onion
  • 1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Mint and Pomegranate seeds (optional toppings)

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 between 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. Stir in 3 tablespoons of rose (or orange blossom) water and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil 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.
  5. I used this recipe to make the caramelized onion, but used one tablespoon of oil with one peeled onion (instead of their recommended amount) to cut down on the oil
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of the saffron rose water mixture, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in the same skillet. Add the carrots and orange peel and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the remaining saffron rose water mixture 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).
  7. In a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, bring ten cups of water to a boil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt, and then add the rice to the pot with the remaining 1 tablespoon plain orange (or rose) blossom water. 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.
  8. Mix the reserved carrot/orange syrup with yogurt (optional) and the par-boiled rice.
  9. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large heavy nonstick pot over medium-low heat. Spread butter evenly around bottom of the pan. Add the rice mixture and spread it evenly on the bottom of the pan.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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, 15-20 minutes; remove from heat. Place a platter over pot and invert so crispy rice is on top, then serve.
  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.

Notes:

  • I’ve made this recipe 3 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 use yogurt, even though I’ve found it isn’t necessary, and the type of cranberries/raisins (and the amount you use) is also flexible. 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
  • 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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