Persian jeweled rice is aromatic and delicious. With spices, dates, herbs and "jewels" of bright, fresh pomegranate arils. Learn how to cook Middle Eastern yellow rice and what spices to add to make it golden yellow.
Persian jeweled rice fit for banquets
Jeweled rice gets its name from the glistening bits of rice, piles of nuts and gem-like fruits. You'll find it served on giant platters in Iran, at weddings and banquets. It's that special!
Javaher Polow (jeweled rice) is how you will hear it referred to in Iran, and it has a few lovely variations. Often the yellow tinge comes from fragrant saffron. Here I've used turmeric.
Traditionally the saffron-infused, ingredient-loaded rice is time intensive. Below you'll find a simplified version that takes just over 30 minutes.
And don't let the near overload of flavor take you aback. This festive dish is also an ideal side for an everyday meal because it's so easy to make. You most likely have almost everything in your pantry and spice cupboard.
Serve this Middle Eastern yellow rice recipe with:
- Simple roast chicken and soft flat bread
- Grilled or roast fish
- Beef or lamb kebabs
Grab a fresh pomegranate, or a container of arils (POM Wonderful POMPOMS come in convenient little cups at the store!). These juicy little fruits are the extra jeweled touch in this mediterranean rice recipe.
Spices to add to rice
Rice is sweet and has a starchy deliciousness all on its own. But it's also a glorious canvas for color and flavor.
For jeweled rice with the golden hue add turmeric along with the fruits and nuts. To bring in the mediterranean rice pilaf flavors, include cinnamon, cayenne and ginger.
In this recipe I use fresh ginger to really give that intense sweet undertone. Garlic and onion create the flavor base for the spices to shine.
Learning how to spice up white rice is an adventure in and of itself. It just takes a trip to your spice cupboard and you're at a great starting point.
Tools for this yellow rice pilaf recipe:
How to cook Middle Eastern yellow rice:
This stove top method for making Middle Eastern yellow rice is so easy. The Persian flavors are added a little at a time to build the authentic flavor.
- Sauté the onion in olive oil until just golden to develop the sweet flavor.
- Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper to intensify the seasoning base.
- Stir in the rice, then add the stock and boil, covered for about 15 minutes.
- Make a dressing from pomegranate juice and olive oil for a bright drizzle at the end of cooking.
- Fluff the rice with a fork, add the dressing, dates, parsley, mint and fresh pomegranate arils.
More recipes to make with fresh pomegranate:
- Butternut Squash and Kale with Toasted Brown Rice
- Glazed Holiday Ham
- Instant Pot Chipotle Taco Bites
- Moroccan Shrimp
Jeweled Rice - Middle Eastern Yellow Rice
- 2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced ¼-inch
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsps grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- pinch cayenne pepper optional
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1½ cups basmati rice
- 3 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- ½ cup Medjool dates pitted and chopped
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley chopped
- ½ cup mint leaves chopped
- ½ cup POM POMS Fresh Pomegranate Arils plus more for garnish
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds toasted
- 2 tbsps POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
- 2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- For the rice, heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and allow to cook, stirring until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne (optional), salt and pepper. Allow to toast 30 seconds.
- Add the rice and stir to combine. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer, and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and olive oil together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Fluff with a fork and stir in the dressing, dates, parsley, mint, and POM POMS Fresh Pomegranate Arils. Serve on a platter and sprinkle with extra POM POMS Fresh Pomegranate Arils and almonds.
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Photography by Ty Mecham.