Friends! It’s almost Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year, one of my favorite holidays- and I’m excited to be sharing this recipe for jeweled rice with you. It’s one I developed for a spice company a while back and when I realized I’d never shared it, I knew now was the perfect time.
Iranian in origin, shirin polo, or jeweled rice, is a steamed, spiced rice dish made with dried fruits, nuts and herbs. Often, it includes a crispy, tahdig style crust which gets broken up and mixed into the rice- my version incorporates that. Colorful, toasty and warmly spiced, shirin polo is a perfect Rosh Hashanah dish; in fact, in the Persian Jewish community, it’s sometimes called Rosh Hashanah rice.
If you’ve never had jeweled rice before, you’re in for a treat. Flavored with honeyed saffron and cinnamon, it’s a comfort food (rice!) that’s also elevated and beautiful (herbs! colors! so many spices!). I love serving it on Rosh Hashanah along with a tagine style brisket- think braised with whole spices and dried apricots- and a few colorful vegetable dishes, like these carrots. It’s obviously delicious with ghee, but you can use a mild olive oil to keep it kosher.
Shana tova and wishing you all a sweet, joyous and healthy New Year! I have lots of other recipes on the blog (like honey cake, and a squash and kale salad, and my mom’s challah!) that would be perfect for the holiday- let me know if you try any!
For the rice:
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- ⅓ cup ghee (or olive oil, for non-dairy)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed well
- 1/4 cup dried barberries
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/4 cup salted pistachios
- seeds of 1 pomegranate for garnish
- fresh dill, for serving
- Boil the rice in a large pot of salted, boiling water until par-boiled, around 7 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well.
- Mix the saffron threads in 2 1/4 cups of hot water. Set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of the ghee to a large skillet. Add the onion, salt and spices, mix, and saute over low heat until the onion is soft and translucent, around 10 minutes.
- Add the barberries, golden raisins and half of the saffron water to the skillet and stir to combine well. Reduce until bubbling and thickened over medium heat, around 5-7 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a separate large pan over high heat. Add half of the rice, using a spatula to spread it out, and scatter the fruit mixture, and half of the almonds, over the rice. Top with the remaining rice. Form the top layer of rice into a pyramid shape, ensuring it doesn’t touch the sides of the pan.
- Poke a few holes into the rice, pour the remaining ghee into the holes, and then cook, without stirring, until rice smells toasty and fragrant, around 3-5 minutes. Drizzle remaining saffron water over rice, then reduce heat to low, and cover and cook for 30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, for another 10 minutes. Break up the crispy bottom layer of rice, mix rice together and transfer to a platter. Serve scattered with remaining nuts, fresh pomegranate seeds and fresh dill.