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Jeweled Rice Recipe

‘Tis the season for show-stopping recipes and I am bringing you another favorite (after last week’s whole roasted cauliflower.) This one is inspired by the Persian “Jeweled Rice,” aka Javaher Polow.  As I understand it, Jeweled Rice is usually served at weddings, big family gatherings and even for new year’s celebrations.  The name of the dish comes from the beautiful jewel-tone colors:  gold, pearls, emeralds, and rubies.  Let me come right out and say very early into this post that this is not a traditional jeweled rice recipe.  I didn’t use saffron or barberries, and I didn’t candy my orange peels in a lot of sugar.  I also use much less oil than normal and I basically created my own, easier version of Jeweled Rice.  I didn’t say my version is better. It is different, not necessarily “authentic,” but still absolutely gorgeous and delicious. 

As in the traditional version, there are a lot of flavorful and colorful ingredients.  Don’t confuse “a lot of ingredients” with “a lot of work.”  Sometimes that is the case, but here it really isn’t.  I wouldn’t say you’ll have this on the table in 20 minutes, but if you prep all the “jewels” in advance and make the rice hot at the last minute, you can assemble this very quickly.  I made this for a dinner party last week and I did just that.  And it really is an impressive dish.

For those of you who do not do grains, I think you can make an excellent version with cauliflower rice!  I haven’t done it, so you’re kind of on your own, but you can follow this recipe for cauliflower rice and fold in all the jewels once the cauliflower rice is cooked.  As far as what to serve with this, anything Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Spanish, Moroccan would be complementary.  I have served it with simple roasted salmon with herbs, Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook, whole roasted chicken.  If I ate lamb, that would be a fabulous pairing.  For a vegan meal, roasted seasonal vegetables and a crisp green salad with radishes is all you need.

For different ways to present the rice, just google “jeweled rice” and click on the images tab to see lots of beautiful options.  Sometimes I like to make a composed version of this rice with all the elements in their own section.  I think this messy look is more fun a and lively.  I have also seen version with dried rose petals and that little hit of pink is so dramatic.  And to me, that’s what the upcoming holidays are all about.  Head into 2019 with a bang, but keep healthy and vibrant.

I know I say this all the time, but I LOVE seeing you recreate my recipes on Instagram or Facebook, so please tag me @pamelasalzman so I can catch a glimpse!  This one is sure to impress!

Shop the tools I used in this recipe by clicking on the images below:

5.0 from 2 reviews
Jeweled Rice
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 Tablespoons ghee, unsalted butter or olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric (this is in place of saffron which you can use instead if you have it)
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt + a healthy pinch for the onions
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled if desired and sliced in ¼-inch rounds
  • orange peel from 1 medium-sized orange, peeled using a vegetable peeler- save the fruit for another time
  • 1 cup mixed unsulphured dried fruit such as currants, raisins, or cherries
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ cup roasted and salted pistachios or roasted slivered almonds, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives or green onions, green parts only
  1. Place the rice, 3 ¾ cups water, 1 Tablespoon of ghee, garlic, turmeric, the cinnamon stick and 1 ½ teaspoons salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 18 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté on medium-high heat until tender and golden, about 12 minutes.
  3. Thinly slice the orange peels and add it to a medium skillet with the carrots, water to cover, a drop of oil, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook over medium high heat until carrots are tender and water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the rice, add the sautéed onions combine lightly with a fork. Transfer to a large serving platter. Top decoratively with the carrot and orange mixture, dried fruits, pomegranate, pistachios and chives.


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  1. Pamela,

    This was an unexpected surprise. I needed to bring a dish to a Moroccan inspired dinner patty. I blindly (without tasting or trying the recipe before) decided to give it a try, it looked very pretty and I could not go wrong. Well, this was excellent and so delicious. It easily came together and was a very impresive addition to the dinner. I liked it so much that I just made again to have at home since last night’s batch was a favorite and got all eaten up. Thank you for such beautiful recipe as always.

    • What a delightful comment to read. Thank you, Dalia! For sure this is one of those recipes that looks more impressive than it is difficult to prepare. 🙂

  2. Absolutely beutiful, Pamela. I love how you made this dish your own, which to me is the essence of any home kitchen. Serve this up with the turmeric chicken and frehs herbs and you’re all set! Happy holidays to you and your lovely family!

    • It’s the way I love to cook, Naz. Thank you for always teaching me the delights of Persian cooking. Wishing you all the best in 2019!

  3. Hello! How would I go about making this ahead of time? Maybe make the rice and onions combined then reheat and add the jewels + pistachios, green onions at last minute? Also, would this go with tamales? Trying to add a little variety to my traditional Christmas Eve menu.

    • Yes, that’s exactly how you would do this ahead of time. It will work out perfectly. What kind of tamales? Not sure I would pair the two dishes, but if the tamales are not overly complicated in flavor, then it could work!

      • Pork with red sauce, green chilies and cheese and chicken with red sauce. I plan on serving them with three different types of sauces: a tomatillo salsa, sour cream+lime juice, and then a smoky chipotle sauce.

        Maybe with the jeweled rice I’ve got too much going on? It just looks so beautiful and delicious.

        • I think that’s a lot, personally. I would make my arroz verde and make the jeweled rice another time.

  4. Awesome! Thanks!

  5. Hi Pamela, this dish looks super pretty. Would it go with grilled entrecote for chrismas or if not could you recommend any other festive side dish.
    Thank you.

    • Absolutely! I also love the roasted vegetable salad, stovetop brussels sprouts from my cookbook, cauliflower mashed potatoes, braised parsnips, whole roasted cauliflower. So many options!

  6. Hi! This recipe looks great and so pretty! Do you think it could be made with cauliflower rice, and if so, how much cauliflower rice would I need to substitute for actual rice? Thanks!

    • You can absolutely adapt this recipe with cauliflower rice! A 1-pound head of cauliflower yields approximately 4 cups of cauliflower rice. 2 cups of dry rice yields about 6 cups of cooked rice. So you need 1 1/2 medium heads of cauliflower riced. You can search for my cauliflower rice recipe and saute accordingly with the spices in this recipe. You don’t make the cauliflower rice with the water used to make regular rice.

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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