Having grown up eating Persian food almost every single Friday during my childhood, I longed for the day that I would finally get myself together and learn how to make it! Persian food is so beautiful; as it uses such a large variety of fresh herbs and spices, vegetables, meats, legumes, and of course, rice. Rice, as in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries, is an important staple of life. It's a part of lunch and dinner almost always, and is prepared in so many different ways.
Shirin Polo, which means 'sweet rice' in Farsi, is my favorite Iranian rice. It's a dish that is typically served at engagement parties and at weddings, as it is considered "good luck" and brings sweetness to a couple's life. It's filled with orange peel, barberries, almonds, pistachios and saffron. It is a great side dish for chicken or beef, as well as with Persian stews (one of which I made and will post next!) Other types of rices can include dill and fava beans, chicken and walnuts, saffron infused water, barberries, tomatoes, potatoes, and the list can go on. I hope to be able to create each of these types of incredible rices soon and share them with all of you! To healthify shirin polo, I used long grain brown rice instead of white basmati rice, and added no sugar to this recipe. When making Persian rice, don’t be stingy with the amount! It is supposed to be a huge aromatic pile — and it is perfect for leftovers too.
3 cups long grain brown rice
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 4 tbsp hot water
1 cup slivered orange peel
2 large carrots, julienned
1 cup dried barberries
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp slivered almonds
2 tbsp slivered pistachios
Wash rice and drain. Place the orange peel in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Place the orange peel, carrot and 1 cup water in the same saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, add barberries and raisin with 1 tbsp olive oil and cook for just about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Bring 8 cups water and 1 tbsp sea salt to a boil. Add the rice and boil according to instructions. Drain rice. Mix rice with saffron water, orange peel, carrots, barberries, raisins, cardamom, sea salt and turmeric. Top with almonds and pistachios.