Persian Jewelled Rice

Persian Jewelled Rice

Recipe & Photography: Narratives

Dramatic in its brilliant colours from saffron, barberries and pistachios, this elegant Persian jewelled rice can be served as a main course with a simple roast chicken, or served as a side dish. Barberries, once used in cooking in medieval England, are available from Iranian food shops, where they are sold dried and known as zereshk. They have a very tart flavour and need de-stemming and rinsing before using. This dish can also be served cold.


  • 75g (10oz) basmati rice
  • 18-20 saffron threads
  • 1 tblsp boiling water
  • 1 rounded tsp cardamom pods 1 rounded tsp coriander seeds 40mls (1 1/2 oz) olive oil
  • 25g (1oz) barberries
  • 50g (2oz) dried cranberries 100g (4oz) raisins
  • 50g (2oz) pistachio nuts, peeled Salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Wash the rice in several changes of cold water and drain well. Mix the saffron with the boiling water and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rice to a large pan of salted boiling water with the cardamom and coriander. Bring it back to the boil and boil for 8-10 minutes, when the rice should be soft on the outside but still rm in the centre. Drain in a colander.
  3. Put the oil in a pan, add the barberries, cranberries, raisins and pistachios over a medium heat and saute for 1 minute to plump up the fruits. Stir in the rice along with the saffron liquid, season well and mix until piping hot. Serve.

Advance preparation: only if serving cold, make the jewelled rice up to 1 day before, cover and chill. Do not reheat cooked rice or freeze.