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Mastering Persian Cooking

I wrote this recipe for a friend who wanted a simplified version of shirin polo. This dish can literally take an entire day to make if done from scratch. I usually prepare the orange peels and the almond slivers a day in advance and let them soak in syrup to soften up and sweeten. But, this more practical and time-saving recipe tastes just as delicious as the long version I usually make.

Shirin Polo in Rice Cooker

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
Yields: 4 servings


For Topping

¾ cup slivered orange peels about 2 oranges
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar divided
¼ cup store-bought slivered almonds
1/8 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
¼ cup zereshk (barberries) rinsed and drained
½ tablespoon butter

For Rice

2 cups rice
3¾ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup oil
1 tablespoon butter


Rinse the oranges and use a vegetable peeler to remove the outermost layers of the peels. Using a paring knife, scrape insides of the peels to remove as much of the white pith as possible. Stack the peels on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife cut into 1/8 to ¼-inch slivers.

Fill a small saucepan with 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar and the slivered oranges peels. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Set aside. Just before use, strain the liquid.

Add 2 cups rice, 3¾ cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ cup oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a bowl of a Persian rice cooker. Start the cooking cycle.

Half way through the cooking cycle, when all the water is absorbed by rice, add slivered orange peels and almonds. Cover to complete to cooking cycle.

While the rice is cooking, add zereshk, butter and 2 teaspoons sugar to a small sauté pan. Heat on medium low long enough for the sugar to melt. Remove from heat, set aside.

To plate the rice, reserve some silvered orange and almonds for garnish. Gently scoop the rice out on a serving platter, lightly mixing the ingredients. Mix one cup rice with saffron water. Add to the rice and top with slivered orange, almonds and zereshk.