Shirin Polo (Persian Sweet Rice)
This recipe comes from Gil Marks's vegetarian Jewish cookbook Olive Trees and Honey. According to him, this type of rice is commonly found at Persian festive occasions. His recipe suggested that you could use either turmeric or saffron. Since saffron is so expensive, I opted for turmeric, but you can substitute a the same amount of saffron instead.
SERVES 6 -8
- 3 cups long grain rice
- 8 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 cup finely slivered orange zest
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 pinch turmeric
- 2/3 cup slivered almond
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
- 2 tablespoons rose water (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons water
Wash rice in lukewarm water until water runs clear.
Then soak in cold water to cover for at least 2 hours but up to 24 hours. Drain, rinse, and drain again.
In a large heavy saucepan, bring 8 cups water to boil over medium heat. Add salt.
Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse and then drain again.
To make the filling, fill a small sauce pan with cold water.
Add orange zest and bring to a boil. Drain and then repeat.
In a medium sauce pan, combine the zest, water, sugar and turmeric and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.
Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until syrupy, about 20 minutes.
Let cool and then stir in nuts.
In a large heavy saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat.
Stir in the turmeric, the 2 tablespoons of water.
Spread 1/3 of rice in the sauce pan.
Scatter half of the zest filling over top, cover with half the remaining rice, then remaining filling, then mound remaining rice over top.
Using wooden spoon handle, poke 7 deep holes in the rice.
Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
Place a kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels over top of pan.
Cover with lid and cook over medium heat until steam appears, about 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is tender and bottom is crisp, about 30 minutes.