This gloriously flavored and fabulously beautiful Jeweled Persian Rice Pilaf makes the most superb side dish.
The rice is soft and fluffy and cooked in stock to give it a great depth of flavor. Lightly spiced with cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom, then finished with cranberries, lemon, and pistachio, this is a touch of the Middle East.
This Persian Rice makes a wonderful side for chicken or lamb. Or serve it with fish for something a little bit different.
How to make Persian rice pilaf
This pilaf is so simple to make! A pilaf (also know as a pilau) is when the rice is cooked over low heat with broth/stock and a selection of other herbs or spices. The finished rice is fluffy and packed with plenty of flavors!
To make a pilaf you start by cooking a chopped onion in olive oil until translucent. The rice is then added to the oil and stirred to coat in the oniony oil. To this, the Persian spices are added and then the rice is cooked slowly in broth. It is important to get the ratio of rice to broth right, this ensures fluffy well-cooked rice that isn't sticky or stodgy.
Persian rice spice
The spices in this pilaf:
- Black pepper
These are used to lightly scent the rice; the flavors aren't overpowering, rather subtle and mellow, perfect for serving with so many different side dishes.
Why is this called Persian jeweled rice?
The term jeweled rice (or jewelled rice) is due to the addition of nuts and dried fruits.
Traditionally sour cherries or barberries were added to Persian rice. These can be hard to find so dried cranberries make a great substitute. You can also add raisins and dried apricot pieces.
Pistachio nuts add a crunch and also a wonderful pink green splash of color, but you can ring the changes and used slivered almonds instead or as well.
These bright pops of color are like jewels in the rice, hence the name.
What to serve with Persian Rice:
- Persian Chicken
- Persian Meatballs (coming soon)
- Kabab Tabei (Pan Kebabs)
- Fesenjan- Walnut and Pomegranate Chicken Stew
- Vegetarian Fesenjan
- Garlic & Lemon Roasted Eggplants
Want more carb side dishes?:
- Greek Orzo with Lemon and Herbs
- Crispy Garlic Butter Potatoes
- Greek Style Rice (Greek Pilaf)
- French Style Mashed Potato
- Easy Creamy Four Cheese Pasta
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Jeweled Persian Rice Pilaf
- 1 small onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cup rice - See note 1
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- pinch ground cumin
- pinch ground cinnamon
- 2 ¼ cups broth/stock - chicken/vegetable
- ⅔ cup dried cranberries or raisins
- ¼ cup hot broth
- ½ cup pistachios - shelled
- Finely chopped parsley - for garnish
- Peel and finely chop the onion.
- place a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the oil and then saute the onion for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add the rice and stir a minute, until the rice looks glassy.
- Add in the tomato paste, salt, black pepper, ground cardamom, turmeric, ground cumin, cinnamon, and broth,
- Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring to a simmer.
- Immediately turn the heat down to low and cook the rice for 15 minutes.
- Do not remove the lid, just remove the saucepan from the cooktop and leave it undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
- Whilst the rice is resting, soak the dried cranberries in the extra broth.
- Remove the lid to the saucepan and use a fork to fluff the rice.
- Add in the soaked cranberries and the pistachio nuts.
- Serve garnished with fresh parsley.
- You can use basmati rice or long-grain white rice for this dish.