Vegan Persian Jeweled Rice

This Traditional food is called jeweled rice because it is golden and glistening, laced with butter and spices and piled with nuts and gem-colored fruits. In Iran, it is typically served at weddings or other celebrations. Great platters of it appear at banquets. 


2 cups best-quality Basmati rice

 Kosher salt

 Unsalted butter, 6 tablespoons in total

1 large onion, diced small

¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled and soaked in 1/4 cup hot water

 Large pinch ground cinnamon

 Large pinch ground cardamom

 Large pinch ground allspice

 Large pinch ground black pepper

 Large pinch ground cumin

⅓ cup chopped dried apricots

⅓ cup golden raisins or currants

⅓ cup dried imported barberries or goji berries, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes and drained (or use 1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries)

⅓ cup blanched slivered almonds

⅓ cup roughly chopped pistachios.


Step 1

Rinse the rice several times in cold water until the water runs clear. Drain. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add the rinsed rice and boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, then drain well in a colander.

Step 2

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, season lightly with salt and cook until softened and lightly colored, 4 to 5 minutes. Moisten with 1 tablespoon saffron water and stir in the cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, black pepper and cumin. Cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the apricots, raisins (or currants) and barberries (or cherries or cranberries).

Step 3

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottomed enamel or nonstick Dutch oven over medium heat. Spread half the par-cooked rice over the bottom of the pot. Spoon over the onion-fruit mixture, then the remaining rice. Leave the pot on the flame, uncovered, for 5 to 8 minutes to gently brown the rice. (Do not stir or move the rice — you will need to rely on your nose to tell if the rice has browned.)

Step 4

Drizzle the remaining saffron water over the rice and put on the lid. Adjust the heat to very low and leave undisturbed for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest at least 10 minutes.

Step 5

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast the almonds and pistachios for a minute or so, taking care not to get them too brown. Set aside for garnish.

Step 6

To serve, spoon the rice into a wide bowl or platter. With a spatula, carefully lift the bottom crust, placing the crisp side up. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts.

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Pistachio and Pomegranate Cake

230g unsalted butter, room temperature 

200g caster sugar

Zest of 2 oranges

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

70g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

200g pistachios, plus extra for decoration

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and grease a deep 20cm round cake tin with a little butter and line the base with parchment paper. 

To make the cake place the pistachios into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground (to prevent the nuts forming a paste you can add a tbsp of the flour to the processor).

Place the butter in a bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until light and creamy for 4 min. After it Add  the orange zest and the sugar then beat together until fluffy, around 6 min.

Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until fully combined. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together, add the pistachios and mix together. Add the dry goods to the butter mixture and gently fold together until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and gently level out. 

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, if the cake is browning too quickly lightly cover with a piece of foil. 

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To finish the cake sprinkle with extra chopped pistachios and the seeds from a pomegranate. 

Because this cake is made with ground nuts it keeps brilliantly, at least 4 days if kept in a sealed container. 

Notes: You can use pistachios from supermarkets but the colour won’t be as vibrant and as they are roasted the cake won’t be quite as moist – green pistachios available.

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