Sweet Rice with Orange and Carrots, Shirin Polo



by Reyna Simnegar, Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride

This is by far my favorite Persian rice. Every time I go to New York, my husband and I make sure to stop at Colbeh. They make the best Shirin Polo!! This is my version of this yummy dish. For the orange peel, simply use a vegetable peeler to peel  2 oranges as if they were apples, leaving behind the white pith. You can eat this orange after you make the rice! With a knife, cut the peel into slivers (1/4-inch x 1/8-inch). For the carrot slivers, buy them at the vegetable department of your regular grocer (who has patience to start cutting carrots into such tiny slivers?) The tadig in this recipe is guaranteed to be a hit and looks beautiful as a garnish around the rice.


For the Rice:
3 cups basmati rice, checked and rinsed
8 cups water
2 tablespoon salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup canola oil

For the Rice Topping:
2 cups water
3/4 cup slivered orange peel (peel of 2 oranges)
1 cup slivered carrots
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1/2 cup slivered pistachios (optional)

To Steam and Make Tadig:
canola oil
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon turmeric and/or saffron powder
2 potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 onion, cut in 1/4-inch rounds


To cook the rice and make the topping: Fill a 6-quart nonstick saucepan with 8 cups water. Add oil, salt, and turmeric. Cover and bring to a brisk boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan with 2 cups of water, slivered orange peel, carrots, and sugar. Bring to a brisk boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

When the turmeric water boils, add the rice and continue cooking, uncovered, over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally.

After 3–5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to scoop some grains from the water. Break one grain in half to make sure it is “al dente”. Turn off heat and pour rice into the colander to drain; set aside.

Drain the orange peel/carrot mixture. Gently stir the orange-carrot mixture, cinnamon, cardamom, almonds, and pistachios into the rice. Reserve some almonds and pistachios for garnish.

To steam and make tadig: Place the empty 6-quart saucepan back onto the stovetop over medium heat. Add ¼-inch canola oil and 2 tablespoons water. Add turmeric and/or saffron powder. Stir together.

Add potatoes and onions in a single layer. Add the drained rice and shape it into a pyramid.

Cover the pot and cook for 5–7 minutes until rice begins to steam. Uncover and place 2 paper towels (one on top of the other) over the rice. The ends will extend outside the pot. Replace the lid tightly.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and tilt the lid until ready to serve.

Serve on a shallow platter, mounding the rice into a pyramid, and garnishing with the tadig.


Yield: 8 servings

Tricks of the trade:
Don’t worry about the oil in this recipe; it will be drained out before serving! Make sure to have a colander ready in the sink to drain the rice. When cooking the tadig, make sure the paper towels are safely away from the heat. I often make double of Shirin Polo topping and freeze half the batch to use later.

Recipes: Side Dishes, Rice, Parve, Kosher

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