Jeweled rice is a magnificent dish. Adorned with dried fruit, toasted nuts, rose petals, and pomegranate seeds, it is a panoply of flavors and colors. In Lousia Shafia's The New Persian Kitchen, the jeweled rice is made even more compelling with a combination of grains. The mixture of quinoa and brown basmati rice adds an earthy complexity that counters the sweet and rich flavors from the toppings.
Why I picked this recipe: Once glance at the photograph of this gorgeous dish and it was placed at the very top of my "to-cook" list.
What worked: The combination of nuts, dried fruit, and flowers in this dish is the perfect balance of rich, tangy, and floral flavors. It is the one rice dish that will totally steal the show from everything else on the table.
What didn't: Despite the soaking, rinsing, and toasting of the grains, I still ended up with clumpy quinoa. Next time, I'll go down a bit on the cooking liquid.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't find barberries, you could substitute currants, or chopped dried cherries or cranberries (try to find some with very little sugar added). Good pomegranates are hard to find right now, so I left off the seeds. Shafia also suggests experimenting with the grains if you'd like; you'll most likely need to adjust the cooking liquid if you do so.
Reprinted with permission from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia. Copyright 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:serves 6 to 8
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:about 2 hours
- 1 cup brown basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
- 5 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- Sea salt
- 4 cups water, boiling
- 2 tablespoons butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 1/2 cup barberries, soaked in warm water for 1/2 hour and drained
- 1 cup minced dried apricots
- 1 tablespoon dried rose petals or dried whole rosebuds pulled apart and stems removed, plus extra for garnish
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 cup pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron, ground and steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water
- Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Drain the rice and quinoa and rinse under cold water. Heat a medium stockpot over low heat and add the rice and quinoa, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and a pinch of salt. Sauté the grains, stirring often to prevent sticking for about 5 minutes until dry and fragrant. Add the boiling water and return to a boil; turn down the heat to very low and cook, covered, for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the grains rest for 10 minutes, then toss in the butter and fluff with a fork.
While the grains cook, heat a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the barberries, apricots, rose petals, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. Cook for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Reserve half of the pistachios and almonds for garnish, and add the rest of the nuts to the skillet. Season with salt, and remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, toss the fruit and nuts with the grains and drizzle in the saffron. Season with salt. Garnish with the remaining nuts, a few rose petals, and the pomegranate seeds.