Jeweled Rice (Javaher Polow)

Jeweled Rice is typically served at weddings but I think any celebration that warrants a little extra food love is an appropriate time for this beauty.  I would strongly recommend it for the approaching NYE as the end of 2020 is about as celebratory as it gets.

This is definitely a labor of love but each step adds incredible flavor.  If you’ve made Persian rice before this is essentially the same dish with some fabulous and colorful additions.  You can even prep these additions in advance making the whole rice making process a little simpler (make ahead notes are at the bottom).

I love how floral, tart, sweet and savory this rice is and the beautiful colors.  Had my barberries been a little fresher the colors would have been that much prettier but it’s 2020 and I’ll take what I can get.  The cinnamon and cardamom is subtle but so key and the saffron takes it over the top.  A true treat to ring in 2021. 

You’ll need for four legit bowls:

  • 4 cups white basmati rice
  • 1 cup dried barberries or unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • ½ cup slivered almonds (all I had was sliced which worked)
  • ¼ cup sliced raw pistachio (all I had was chopped)
  • ½ cup seedless golden or green raisins
  • 1 tsp ground saffron
  • 4 tablespoons orange blossom water, divided
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large oranges (1 cup slivered orange peel)
  • 2-3 large carrots (2 cups peeled and cut 3” strips)
  • One cinnamon stick or 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom powder
  • Salt

To Make:

  1. Remove any weird pieces you might see in the rice.  Place rice in large container and cover with lukewarm water.  Run your hands over the rice then pour off the water (you don’t need to go psycho draining the water because you’re going to do this again).  Repeat this water/hand movement situation five times.  This is to clean the rice and you can’t skip this step- it is key to the texture/fragrance/persianess of the dish.  After you’ve done that add 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons salt to the bowl and leave to soak for 24 hours.  This will help the rice from sticking together/makes it legit.
  2. Place barberries in a fine-mesh colander and place colander in container full of cold water and soak 20 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium.  Add almonds and pistachios and sauté 20 seconds.  Add raisins, stir and transfer to small bowl.
  4. In same skillet, place 1 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons sugar and the barberries.  Sauté 4 minutes over medium (keep an eye out it doesn’t burn). Set aside.
  5. Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil orange slices for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium.  Add carrots and oranges and sauté 2 minutes.  Add 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of the saffron-orange blossom water, cinnamon and cardamom and sauté 1 minute.  Add 1cup of water, bring to boil and cook for 7-10 minutes over medium high heat.  Drain, reserving syrup, and set aside.
  7. Okay now in an ideally 5-quart, 11.25” diameter by 3.25” deep, non-stick pot bring 10 cups of water to a boil over high heat.  The dimensions can be a little off but it needs to be non-stick.  This is not the time for fancy Le Crueset cast iron pan this is your TJ Maxx non-stick trusted skillet.  Add the 2 tablespoons of sea salt and 1 tablespoon orange blossom water.  Now, drain your rice that’s been soaking for 24 hours (you might want to use a fine mesh strainer) and add to the boiling water.  Boil rice on high heat for 6-10 minutes, gently stirring twice with a wooden spoon to make sure nothing has stuck to the bottom.  Test the grain, if it’s soft and rising to the top, drain the rice (using fine mesh strainer) and rinse with cold water.
  8. Now it’s tahdig time.  Combine 0.5 cup oil, 0.25 cup water, 0.5 teaspoon saffron orange blossom water, 2 tablespoons yogurt and 2 cups of rice in a bowl.  Spread this mixture on the bottom of the pot evenly and pack it down using your hands.
  9. Take 2/3 cup of the drained rice at a time and place on top of the yogurt/rice mixture, shaping the rice into a rough pyramid.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  10. Mix 0.25 cup oil, reserved syrup and 0.5 cup water and pour evenly over rice pyramid.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of saffron orange blossom water on top.  Wrap the bottom of the lid with a clean dish towel and cover rice firmly (this prevents steam from escaping).  Cook for 70 minutes over low heat.
  11. When the rice is almost done cooking line a baking sheet with a wet dish towel.  Remove the pot from heat and place on the damp surface for 5 minutes without uncovering it (this way the tahdig will come off easier).
  12. Gently transfer rice a little at a time without distributing the tahdig (bottom crust) to a platter.  As you transfer rice to the platter layer in the barberries, nut/raisin mixture, and orange/carrot mixture.
  13. Flip the tahdig out onto a plate and serve alongside the rice.

*Make ahead:

  • Prep barberries
  • Prep nut and raisin mixture
  • Boil oranges (removes the bitterness)
  • You could even prep the orange and carrot sauté in advance too

 Inspired FoodofLife

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