Jewelled rice

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40 min


6 to 8 servings

* PLUS Cooking time: 38 minutes, Standing Time: 720 minutes
Jewelled rice


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onions , finely chopped
  • 1 orange , or 1/2 cup dried orange peel
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp pistachios


  • In a large bowl, stir rice with 3 tsp (15 mL) salt and 5 cups (1.25 L) cold water. Place barberries and raisins in a small bowl. Add warm water to cover. In another small bowl, stir saffron into 1/4 cup (50 mL) warm water. Leave all at room temperature, at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  • Drain rice, barberries and raisins. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place with onion in a large saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt. No need to add oil. Cover and stir occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 min.
  • Slice a few thick strips of peel from orange. Trim off pith. Slice peel into thin strips. Cut carrot into similar size strips. Combine fresh or dried orange peel (no need to soak) in a large frying pan with sugar and 1/2 cup (125 mL) water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so mixture is simmering. Stir occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, 9 to 12 min. Stir into chicken-onion mixture along with drained barberries and raisins. Cover and set aside.
  • Bring 5 cups (1.25 L) water to a boil in a large, heavy bottomed or non-stick saucepan. Add rice. Boil, uncovered, over medium-high. Stir often, until partially cooked, 7 min. Drain. Rinse with water. Drain again.
  • Rinse rice pan. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter. Melt over medium-low heat. Add partly cooked rice. Using a rubber spatula shape into a pyramid. Cover and cook 10 min. Don’t stir. Melt 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter in microwave and stir into saffron mixture. Drizzle over rice. Don’t stir. Cover and cook until rice is tender, 8 to 10 min. Layer with chicken mixture on a platter, mounding into a pyramid. Sprinkle with nuts.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 286,
  • Protein
  • 10.3 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 45.6 g,
  • Fat
  • 7 g,

Plump red barberries and candied orange peel punctuate basmati rice with rich bursts of colour. The thin crust of rice (tah-dig) that forms on the bottom of the pot is considered the cook’s prize.

Saffron threads

The orange-yellow stigmas of a purple crocus are hand-picked, then dried. Understandably expensive, they give food a vibrant yellow hue and a distinctive perfumey taste. Fortunately, a pinch dissolved in hot water goes a long way.

Dried orange peel

Instead of laboriously removing peel from a fresh orange, many Persian cooks buy dried orange peel and soak well before using.

Basmati rice

This Himalayan grain is aged to decrease moisture and has an appealing fragrant scent and nutty taste. It’s sold in Indian and Middle Eastern food stores and many supermarkets.


These tart red berries are native to Europe but also grow in New England. Ripened barberries are used in pies and preserves while unripened green berries are pickled and used as relish. Persian recipes often call for dried barberries that must be soaked before use. Try dried cranberries as a substitute.