Created At: Wednesday 2020-06-24 22:59:50
Updated At: Tuesday 2021-03-16 23:32:00
Time To Read: 12 Minutes
Shirin polo (literally sweet rice) is a desirable food that is cooked and served variously all over Iran; but originally it comes from Qazvin, north of Iran, and is considered as a delicacy. As a result, the dish is served mostly on special occasions; especially at weddings. It is a sweet rice pilaf, sometimes very sweet; so you can change the amount of sugar you use up to your desire. In this case, you can use less syrup than instructed. Locals serve this sweet rice with "Kuku Shirin". Don't forget to check out our article "Qazvin cuisine".
Shirin Polo ingredients
- Rice 4 cups
- 3 minced onions
- Frying oil
- Butter or olive oil
- Rose water (or just water it doesn’t make much difference. rose water will give it a tantalizing aroma)
- Stew meat (beef or chicken) 600g
- Salt and pepper
- Turmeric 1 teaspoon
- Saffron 1 teaspoon
- Cinnamon 1 teaspoon
- Cardamom powder ½ teaspoon (optional)
- Slivered almond 150g
- Slivered pistachio 150g
- Peeled and shredded carrot 150g
- Candied Citrus peel 150g (orange preferably)
- Sugar 2 tablespoons
- Syrup 1 cup
- Place the rice in a suitable pot and wash with enough changes of water so that the washing water runs clear. Then, drain the rice and add 6 cups of water and 2-3 tbsp of salt. Let it soak for 1 to 8 hours. (for more information about Persian rice click here)
- Meanwhile, add the minced onions with few inches of frying oil to a medium-sized pot, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until it is starting to yellow, add the meat, pepper, and turmeric. Stir now and then for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, add 1 and a half cup of water, put it over medium flame and let it cook thoroughly. (for chicken you can add salt right away then, half of saffron water after it cooks. But for beef, you’ll have to wait until it is fully cooked then add salt and saffron water. Since it’s sweet food, don’t use too much salt only a few dashes of salt are enough.) to make sure that the meat is cooked properly slice a small portion and check whether it is tender enough. If so, set aside to absorb saffron.
- While the meat is getting ready put the orange peel into a pot, cover with fresh water and let it simmer for a minute or two. Drain and repeat for 3 more times. Then, let it boil for 20 minutes at the 4th time and strain. Adding a little saffron to its water while boiling, will give it a nice orangish-yellow color.
- Place a skillet over medium flame. Pour enough frying oil and then add the carrots and stir for a couple of minutes. Then add orange peel and sauté until they are cooked down between 3 to 4 minutes.
- Place the slivered almond in a bowl add ½ cup of fresh water, or rose water, and set aside to soak for 10 minutes. Then add almonds, with its water, 1/3 cup of syrup, remained saffron water, and cardamom powder to the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking until the water completely evaporates. Add pistachio to a small pan and saute for 2 minutes. Since it’s sweet food, the amount of sweetness depends on your desire. In this step, you can also just add 2 tbsp of sugar instead of syrup. (To use saffron, first crumble the threads and steep them in warm water for 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, cook the threads for 1-2 minutes)
- Your garnishes are ready; it is time to cook the rice. Bring 7 cups of water combined with lemon juice and 1 tbsp of salt to a boil in a large pot. Add one small piece of butter or a few drops of olive oil. Drain the rice and stir in until the rice pieces float on the water. Strain and pour fresh water on it so that it won’t adhere. (the boiled water is full of vitamins you can save to use for soup or stew)
- Rinse out the pot and spread the butter over the bottom of the pot (also pour some drops of frying oil, olive oil; without it the milk solid in butter will burn.) you can place peeled and thinly sliced potatoes in the bottom of the pot to make "Tahdig". Add half of the partially cooked rice to the pot and smooth it out with a wooden spoon. (here you can add chicken pieces too) Next spread half of the garnishes over the rice in the pot. Then add the rest of the partially cooked rice to the pot and smooth it out again with the wooden spoon. (the other half of the garnishes will be used for design.) place the pot over low heat. In the end, spread 4 pieces of heated butter on the top of the rice. Press some holes down into the rice using the handle of a long spoon. This will allow any steam to penetrate all the way through the rice, cooking it more evenly. Now cover the pot with a kitchen towel that has been secured to the lid. To form a crispier "tahdig", leave the rice to cook for several hours. Before turning the heat off, taste the rice to make sure it is fully cooked.
- if you cooked beef for this sweet rice, put them on the top of the rice when it is designed and ready to serve; you can even pour a little syrup over the meat and rice to make it sweeter. But if you like chicken, either put them on the rice or spread them between the layers of the rice along with garnishes to be cooked.
- While the rice is getting ready, let’s get to my favorite part; KUKU.
Trick: If you don’t have saffron, substitute about 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric.
Now your food is ready to serve you can either put the kuku on your rice or serve it on a different plate. It can be eaten as a main course or as a dessert; it is up to your desire. Bon appetite.
If you have the same food in your city/country or you know any additional tips, Iranwatching would love to read about them. So don’t forget to share.