In my opinion, presentation is key when it comes to setting up the table for Thanksgiving! Whilst the centerpiece is typically thought to be the turkey – I like to focus on the collection of side dishes that can add a splash of color to your dining table. I have been cooking this Jeweled Persian Rice dish for years, and love how easily you can change the flavors, depending on the festive toppings and rich spices that are included.
Barberries are sweet and sour small Persian berries that can be found at most online ethnic food stores. If you can’t find these berries, no sweat - just use cranberries instead. Be sure not to skip the candied orange peel - one of my personal favorite parts about this dish that adds a warm citrus kick to balance the savory tones of this recipe.
Tip: The orange syrup tastes delicious on vanilla ice cream with a splash of kyoord olive oil, so keep the leftovers for dessert!
To take this recipe to the next level, I recommend adding the toppings to the rice by using the “pizza slice” shape in the method below. This will make your dish look amazing – but just remember to mix everything together with a generous drizzle of kyoord olive oil before serving.
3 cups long-grain white basmati rice
4 tbsp olive oil - divided
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp candied orange syrup
2 large or 3 medium oranges
1/3 cup + one pinch granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp saffron threads
Candied orange peel
Dried cranberries (or dried barberries if you can get them)
Slivered or sliced blanched almonds
Golden or green raisins
Fresh pomegranate seeds
Small edible flowers
Candied Orange Peel
Rinse the rice several times in a colander and then soak for at least 1 hour.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the oranges. Try to get thick peels with a bit of the white pith.
Julienne into strips about ¼“x 2”. Place in a medium saucepan.
Crush saffron threads with a pinch of sugar using mortar and pestle, or between your fingers and add to the saucepan.
Add the rest of the spices and sugar, cover in water (about 3 cups), and bring to boil.
Simmer and reduce till there is only about 1 cup of liquid left.
Remove from heat and cool. Drain orange peel and set aside. Reserve the syrup for the rice.
After completing the candied orange peel, drain the rice, and rinse one more time.
Place the rice in a large pot, add the water, salt, olive oil, and candied orange peel syrup. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, place a clean kitchen towel on the pot and cover tightly with a lid. Simmer on low for 10 minutes, and then turn off the stove. Let the rice rest for 10 more minutes before opening.
Transfer the rice to a large serving platter, arranging it either in a cone shape or using another bowl and creating a half-sphere shape.
Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Decorate the rice with 5-6 toppings, placing each one in a “pizza slice” shape to cover the rice completely.