In Persian cooking, all roads eventually lead to rice. The holy grail of making “polo” (Persian-style rice) is a bed of aromatic fluffy rice, not one single grain sticking to another. (Like all tasks demanding finesse, this accomplishment takes practice and patience and some luck. A good polo is the true test of how one reckons a cook to be an accomplished one in Iran. )
Iranians are quite proud of their rice dishes and truthfully, there is a just basis for the bragging rights. Conjure this for example: candied carrots, berberries, slivered pistachio and almonds layered inside a bed of fluffy rice steaming fragrant with saffron and a touch of butter. These are the delectable building blocks of a crowd-pleasing rice dish called “shirin polo” or sweet rice.
Sweet rice is somewhat of a misnomer though, in that the sweetness of this dish is subtle and is punctuated with the most wonderful bursts of contrasting tangy flavor courtesy of the barberries, and is also nicely balanced with the nutty flavor and crunch of the almond and pistachio garnish.
Shirin polo, when produced in a more elaborate and meticulous incarnation, is called "javaher polo" or jeweled rice, a dish fit to be served on festive occasions, including weddings. This Shirin Polo recipe is my mother's go-to-simplified-version for just a nice dinner at home. (Although it won't be that out of place in a wedding after all!)
—Fig and Quince