The name of this orange and cardamom-infused Persian rice dish is "shirin polo," which means "sweet rice" in Farsi. It's traditionally paired with chicken, so it's a great side dish with chicken kebabs or roasted chicken. Be sure to zest only the outer layer of the orange, because the white pith underneath will make the dish bitter. The mild flavor of unrefined coconut oil complements the sweetness of this rice and can make for an interesting variation on the traditional butter. (This recipe is from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia). —Louisa Shafia
6 to 8
white basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
unrefined coconut oil
yellow onion, finely diced
grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
slivered or coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
pistachios, coarsely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
Grated zest of 1 large orange
saffron, ground and steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water
Drain the rice and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. In a stockpot, combine the water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the rice, return to a boil, then turn down the heat to its lowest setting. Cover and cook for 20 min- utes. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes, then dot with the butter and fluff with a fork. The rice should be dry and fluffy.
While the rice cooks, heat a small skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion in the coconut oil for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the carrots, almonds, cin- namon, cardamom, and turmeric, and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add 1/2 cup pistachios, the orange zest, and the honey and cook for about 2 minutes, until heated through. Season with salt.
Scoop the rice into a large bowl. Add the carrot mixture and drizzle in the saffron. Mix gently and season with salt. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon pistachios.
I'm fascinated by the way food connects us with different times, places, and each other. I live in Nashville, TN, a city rich with culinary traditions and a fast growing immigrant population. As Culinary Liaison for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, I organize events that unite people around food and spotlight the work of immigrant chefs. My cookbook The New Persian Kitchen is a winner of Food52's Piglet award. I love cooking Iranian rice and hearing people crunch on the crispy tahdig from the bottom of the pot. Find my Persian Rice Bonnet and Persian Spice Kit on my website and on Etsy.