Persian Jeweled Rice aka Javaher Polow is a spectacular Middle Eastern wedding rice studded with colourful dried fruit, nuts, and candied orange peel. I have included steps to add tahdig, the signature style of Persian scorched rice. Don’t get intimidated by the long list of ingredients and steps. With a little commitment, this can be a stunning centrepiece for any celebration.
This post was originally a guest post on Shanaz's website. I have already mentioned her in my Cucumber Dosa post. But for the new readers, her blog is a treasure trove of spicy Indian food and not to forget her amazing Youtube channel with great videos that you will find so easy to follow!
The ingredients list is long and the method may sound complicated, but trust me when I say it is easy if you have some basics of making rice. I was waiting to get my hands on some barberries but had to settle for dried cranberries.
- saffron strands
- orange blossom water
- slivered almonds
- slivered pistachios
- dried cranberries (barberries is the best option)
- golden raisins
- orange rinds
- pomegrante arils
- cinnamon stick
- ghee or butter
- basmati rice
see the recipe card for detailed version.
How to make it?
Preparing this Jeweled rice is a breeze once you have all the ingredients in place. The whole process involves getting the ingredients ready (mise en place) and prepping the rice pot.
- brew saffron
- prepare candied orange peels and carrots
- prepare the caramelized onions
- parboil the rice
- steam the rice
- fold nuts and dried fruits into the rice
- plate and garnish
The best thing about this rice is you don’t need any accompaniments but it is usually served along with some kabobs and yoghurt sauce.
Talking about tahdig, which translates to “bottom pot” is the golden crust of rice at the bottom of the pot. I know that lots of butter or ghee and saffron water goes into it and it is deliciously edible, but somebody new to this concept may wonder that we served burnt rice! I have one living with me - F.
Persian Jewelled Rice | Javaher Polow with Tahdig
For saffron brew
- 1 teaspoon saffron strands
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds
- ⅓ cup slivered pistachios
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup orange rind thinly sliced
- 1 carrot cut into batons
- 2 tablespoon Pomegranate arils
For candied orange rinds and carrots
- 2½ cups water to boil the rinds to remove the bitterness
- ¼ cup sugar
For caramelized onion:
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 3 green cardamom
- 2 teaspoon ghee or butter
- ¼ teaspoon allspice powder optional
- ¼ teaspoon cumin powder optional
- 11/2 cup basmati rice washed and soaked for 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 5 to 7 cups water
- 3 to 5 tablespoon ghee or butter
Prepare the saffron water
- Lightly ground the saffron strands with a dash of sugar using a mortar and pestle. The granulated sugar helps grind the strands.
- Add the ground saffron, orange blossom water and warm water to a small bowl and let it rest. You may skip the warm water and use ice cubes.
Prepare the candied orange rinds and carrots
- Boil enough water and drop the sliced orange rinds into it. Let it boil for 5 minutes.
- Drain the water off and rinse the rinds with cold water. This is to cut the bitterness. Taste and repeat if necessary.
- Add the rinds back to the saucepan along with the carrots, some sugar, brewed saffron and plain water. Let it boil for 5 to 8 minutes or until the water is reduced to half.
- Remove the rinds and carrots and keep them aside. Reserve the syrup.
Prepare the caramelized onions
- Heat ghee in a pan and add the whole spices and chopped onions. Saute the onions until browned but not burnt.
- Mix ¼ teaspoon of cumin and allspice powder and remove from the pan to a medium bowl. If you do have Advieh, add ½ teaspoon of it. Advieh is an Iranian spice mix.
Parboil the rice
- Take a large wide saucepot and bring 5 to 6 cups of water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat.
- Add the drained soaked rice into the boiling water and bring it back to a boil over medium-high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the grains are almost cooked but fully done.
- Drain the rice into a fine mesh colander and rinse with cool water immediately. Stir the rice with a fork to let the steam escape. This will stop the cooking process.
- Return the pot to heat add the ghee or butter and some of the saffron water and let it melt. Swirl the pot to ensure all the bottom is liberally covered with ghee. Place a flat pan or heat diffuser under the pot. This is to help with the even distribution of heat.
- Transfer some of the parboiled rice to cover the bottom of the pot to at least ½ inch. Start adding the remaining rice in the centre of the pot over the bed of rice we added for tahdig building it into a pyramid. Don’t have to level this.
- Pour the reserved orange carrot syrup, leftover saffron water, and the required water over the rice.
- Add all of the parboiled rice into the rice pot piling up in a pyramid shape. Dot the rice pyramid with ghee or butter, any leftover saffron water, and the water
- Cover the pot with a tea towel or foil. Close it with the tight lid and let it cook on the lowest flame for 45 to 50 minutes.
- Switch off, remove the lid and the tea cloth and place the pot over the folded tea cloth.
Plating the Javaher Polow
- Scoop 2 to 3 large spoons of rice and add them to the bowl with caramelized onion. To this, fold in a little of everything from nuts to dried fruits and keep it aside.
- Take a large serving plate, and carefully scoop out the rice without disturbing the rice crust.
- Top the rice with the caramelized onion rice mix and garnish with the rest of the prepared jewels.
- Carefully remove the crispy rice crust aka tahdig into large pieces and serve them separately.
- Serve Persian Jeweled polow with kababs, salad, and yoghurt!